Ducks up to the challenge as they host Edmonton – Orange County Register

The Ducks entered the All-Star break with a four-game points streak’s worth of sparks that they hoped to transform into flames. Now, coming out of the pause, they’ll confront a club that entered it as a blazing inferno.

They’ll host the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, a team that just saw its 16-game winning streak end with a loss in Las Vegas on Tuesday, which left Edmonton one victory shy of the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins’ NHL record for most consecutive wins.

It will be the third meeting of the season between the Ducks and Oilers, with the prior two offering little in the way of proportionality. Edmonton scored seven unanswered goals in an 8-2 win north of the border and followed that up with a 7-2 bombardment at Honda Center.

Ducks coach Greg Cronin said one of his goals for the stretch run was to further extend offensive zone time and that doing so would mean protecting pucks more confidently. He pointed to Edmonton as a squad that shielded pucks with equal parts aplomb and tenacity. In addition to their marquee forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Cronin also highlighted Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele.

“We’re going to see a team Friday that really protects the puck effectively. They [challenge you] like, ‘Here, try and get it off my stick,’” Cronin said via phone.

Foegele had a career night with five points during the meeting at Honda Center, while captain Connor McDavid had an equally explosive outburst in the clash at Edmonton. That was hardly unusual for McDavid. It was his ninth career five-point effort and he would add a 10th on Jan. 2 against the Philadelphia Flyers. In that affair, he factored into every Edmonton goal and crossed the 900-point threshold in the fifth-fewest games of any player in NHL history.

For the Ducks’ part, they’ve had some shorter-term excellence in the scoring column. Since Dec. 1, Troy Terry and Adam Henrique have combined for 47 points in 51 games. They’d accumulated just 23 points in 45 prior games.

In Terry’s case, a new coach, a distinct system and a freshly minted $49 million pact that made him an integral part of the team for seven years all created some early-season tension despite being a proven scorer who could contribute in many other areas.

After a career-high four points, including a hat trick, on Nov. 1, Terry went into a funk during which he did not find the back of the net until Dec. 13. He has four goals in his past three games as part of a six-match scoring streak that’s seen him compile 10 points.

“We were winning despite his [decreased] production, then we were losing despite his [increased] production. When was this guy going to emerge as a game-breaking player? I think it was the Rangers game,” said Cronin, referring to the second game in Terry’s points streak.

In a geographical confluence befitting of the small world that is pro hockey, Anaheim provided something of a nexus between Boston and Denver.

Cronin, a New Englander who couldn’t hide his roots if he tried (and who also had two different coaching gigs in Colorado), and Terry, a Denverite through and through, shared a connection to Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, who was instrumental in developing Terry at the University of Denver. Cronin just missed Montgomery as a player at the University of Maine, having joined the staff there a year after Montgomery captained the Black Bears to a national title alongside a baby-faced freshman named Paul Kariya.

“‘Find a balance, you guys will find a balance,’ Jim kept telling us,” Cronin said.

The Ducks will need to find equilibrium as a group against a juggernaut Oilers club that prevailed 16 straight times before falling 3-1 to the Golden Knights in their first game after the break. During their surge, the Oilers had five players with 15 or more points, led by McDavid’s 26 and Draisaitl’s 23.


Ducks defenseman Olen Zellweger returned to the minors over the break while another rookie blue liner, Pavel Mintyukov, returned to practice, though he hadn’t yet been activated from injured reserve. Max Jones appeared ready to be activated and possibly return Friday. Alex Killorn skated alone but remained a ways from a return following knee surgery.


When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Honda Center

How to watch: Bally Sports SoCal

Originally Appeared Here

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