Struggling Flyers, Ducks meet in Anaheim
Two teams looking for a major spark will get together Tuesday night when the Anaheim Ducks host the Philadelphia Flyers at Honda Center.
The Ducks have lost five in a row, their longest losing streak in three years, while the Flyers have dropped their past three games by a combined score of 13-2.
The game in Anaheim will be the start of a four-game West Coast trip for the Flyers (4-7-0) , their only visit to California and Arizona this season. Team captain Claude Giroux told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the road trip should provide an opportunity for the team to bond away from the ice.
"That's what we need right now," Giroux said. "We need to get closer as a team, we need to go out there and play for each other, and this road trip is going to be very important for the season."
The Ducks (5-5-2) opened a four-game homestand Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks and played better than in the previous four games, rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the second period with two goals from recent waiver acquisition Pontus Aberg, but they eventually lost 4-3 in overtime.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle stressed the importance of staying positive during this rut.
"There is our fair share of work that needs to be done, but for us it's about taking the next step," he said. "Right now, we're a hockey club that has to try to create an identity, and we did that in the last 30 minutes of (the San Jose) game."
Anaheim has been trying to play with a faster pace, but the process seems to be creating more scoring chances for the opposition than the Ducks.
The Sharks outshot Anaheim 19-8 in the first period and 34-17 through two before finishing with a 45-27 edge. The Ducks are allowing a league-high 39.1 shots per game while taking a league-low 24.5.
"We have to get to the bottom of that," Ducks defenseman Josh Manson said.
The Ducks have been repeatedly bailed out by goaltenders John Gibson and Ryan Miller.
Gibson is sixth in the NHL with a .938 save percentage, and Miller also has a .938 save percentage in three appearances, including two starts. Despite the heavy volume of shots against, they've helped limit the team's goals-against average to 2.75, which is 12th-best in the NHL.
The Flyers haven't received nearly as quality of goaltending, a major reason why they're allowing a league-high 4.18 goals per game.
The Flyers have also struggled on the penalty kill, allowing a league-high 13 power-play goals for a league-worst kill rate of 67.5 percent. They've allowed six power-play goals in the past four games.
"We can't give up," Philadelphia center Scott Laughton told the Inquirer. "On the bench, you've got to stay positive, keep encouraging guys, and it's only these guys in here that's going to get us out of it. No one's going to feel sorry for us that we're under .500."