The Anaheim Ducks have a broken wing or two at the moment.
After much was made about the goaltender rotation, head coach Bruce Boudreau finally settled on one for Wednesday night’s game against the Islanders — Jason LaBarbera — while Frederik Andersen got some extra rest to fully heal and Igor Bobkov was shipped back to the AHL.
But then the team got to the Honda Center Wednesday night, and it all fell apart when captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the two undisputed and longtime leaders of the team, were sent back home with the flu right before the Ducks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders.
Without the presence of their longtime leaders and their captain, the Ducks were a little out of sorts at times.
"Hey listen, they’re two of the best players in the world and you can’t replace them. They’re out for any length of time and you’re going to miss them, they’re two of the best in the world and that really puts other teams on their heels when they’re out there," Boudreau said. "The biggest challenge is finding line combinations because we haven’t found a lot of line combinations with the group that played tonight."
#NHLDucks@C_Fowler4 said the team is disappointed it couldn't get two points. "We expect too much in this room to be happy with one point."
The notion of "escaping" with a point doesn’t sit well with the team. The Ducks are one of the deepest teams in the league and they felt that they should have been able to compensate without issue.
"To use that as an excuse would be silly," said defenseman Cam Fowler. "It’s not something you plan for, obviously, being without two vocal leaders is a little bit of a change. But I feel like we were prepared and we had guys that stepped up. Those guys are always missed but there’s not much we can do, we have to go on without them."
"With the team we have, we always shoot for getting two points every single game," said winger Emerson Etem.
Etem was one of those players that filled a void with his game-tying goal in the second period. And if there was any positives to take from this game it was the play of some of the role players that don’t typically see as much ice time and Etem made the most of his. Had Getzlaf and Perry been available, Etem and Rickard Rakell would have both been healthy scratches.
Rakell assisted on Etem’s goal with a screen out in front of Isles’ goaltender Jaroslav Halak and both finished plus-1.
"I took both of them in and talked to them before they knew they were playing and sometimes that turns a lightbulb on," Boudreau said. "I think in Emerson’s case, especially, that was one of his better games. He had opportunities and he scored where he needed to so I hope he can work from that."
As for the negatives, the penalty-kill unit killed off only one of three penalties and allowed John Tavares’ game-winner. And yet another slow start created another early hole 2-0. It’s been a troubling trend for the Pacific Division leaders.
"We showed that in the second period we can be a good team when we want to be," Fowler said. "We had our fair share of chances and unfortunately, we just ran out of time time and you saw what happened in overtime — just a lucky bounce. So it’s just something that isn’t acceptable for our group."
Getzlaf and Perry were given no timetable to return, but should they be unavailable Friday against division foe Arizona, the Ducks won’t be making any excuses in their absence.