The Ducks went back to work Tuesday at Honda Center, skating together for the first time since suffering a 2-1 overtime loss last Thursday to the Ottawa Senators in the last game of a six-game cross-continent trip that took them to the Christmas break.
The biggest topic for discussion before the third-place Ducks (17-12-6) faced the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks (21-12-1) was hitting the re-set button on a season that’s featured wildly inconsistent play over the first 35 games. The midway point in the 82-game regular season is right around the corner and time for improvement is at hand.
“After a three- or four-day break with family and friends we should all be refreshed and looking forward to getting this thing going again against an obviously great opponent and a big rival of ours to start out here,” Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said.
What needs to change for the rest of the season?
“There shouldn’t be any confusion, any question marks about what is expected in certain situations,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “That’s been our message. It was our message before we left for the break and it’s our message again when they came back this morning, that we’re going to hold them accountable to that.”
The Ducks’ lineup (see below) looked pretty much the same as before the break, with Rickard Rakell back at left wing on a line with center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry. Carlyle broke them up in order to get Rakell moving better during the loss to the Senators.
Carlyle also said Tuesday he likes Rakell on left wing, but that eventually he’d prefer to have the 23-year-old Swede at center. Rakell’s scalding start to the season was aided in part because he was playing with Getzlaf and Perry. Rakell had 14 goals and 21 points in 24 games before the break.
Here are the Ducks’ lines, pairs and expected starting goalie.
The Sharks skated in San Jose at their practice facility and then flew south.
Tommy Wingels isn’t expected to play, but Michael Haley is.