Detroit Red Wings Travel to Anaheim: The Battle of the Feathers

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 16: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes a position in front of Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during the first period of a game played on March 16, 2018 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 16: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes a position in front of Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during the first period of a game played on March 16, 2018 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings continue their west coast trip tonight when they lock up with the gritty Anaheim Ducks.  Let’s get to know more about the Ducks.

The Detroit Red Wings are set to play the back-end of a back to back night west coast trip tonight as they take on the Anaheim Ducks.  It is sort of a ridiculous road trip.  The Wings squared off with the Kings last night and the Ducks are on the menu tonight.

Usually, the Wings would carry on with San Jose while they are out here but nope, at the conclusion of the game tonight it’s wheels up.  The Wings are heading back to Motown and preparing for John Tavares and company midweek.

To get an insider view at the matchup with the Ducks and what we should expect tonight I had a chance to sit down with the very talented Ciara Durant from Pucks of a Feather.  Be sure to give Ciara a follow along with Pucks of a Feather for all of your up to date Anaheim Ducks news and information.

Bob Heyrman (BH): What are the Anaheim Ducks realistic expectations this season?

Ciara Durant (CD): The Ducks are in a much better place than they were last year. We had critical pieces like Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm, Patrick Eaves, Ryan Getzlaf, and Sami Vatanen out for extended periods of time. They had players like Kevin Bieksa, Francois Beauchemin, and Antoine Vermette to take their place in the lineup.

Although we’re starting our season without Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Patrick Eaves, we don’t have over the hill veterans to take their place. It’s encouraging that our coach, Randy Carlyle, is allowing kids like Troy Terry, Sam Steel, Max Comtois, and Kiefer Sherwood to play. Last season he certainly wouldn’t have done that.

Although they had issues with communication and control in Game 1 against the Sharks, we saw a faster team. So, they’re catching up with the times. They still have some things to iron out, but they look like an entirely different team.

It looks like we have a decent fourth line to roll out this season, allowing our top six some time to relax and refresh during shifts. One thing the Ducks having going for them is great leadership on the ice. Our captain isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Ryan Getzlaf, who all though he’s 33, is coming off of a 61 point season (having missed 25 games.)

Rickard Rakell is also an NHL star on the rise, leading our team last season in goals (34) and points (69). I’m expecting him to have an even better season this year. Then there’s Hampus Lindholm, who is healthy at the start of the season. In my opinion, he is the most underrated defenseman in the NHL. He broke his own personal records last year, even after sitting out the first few weeks of the season. Brandon Montour is right behind him, having had a breakout season last year. Ondrej Kase should be back soon, and he’s a powerhouse on the ice.

Plus, we’ve locked down John Gibson for the next nine seasons. I know people think the Ducks are crazy for signing a goaltender to such a lengthy contract. However, you can’t let a talent like that slip through your fingers. If you do a little math, he had the highest save percentage of any goaltender last season (aside from maybe Pekka Rinne.)

He kept the Ducks in the race for a playoff spot last season, standing on his head for his team! He proved in their season opener he’s the same goaltender he was last season, if not better.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ducks have another 100+ point season. I think they have the potential to be a playoff team and make some noise. However, I think they need another season of development with the new system to be considered contenders for the Stanley Cup.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last season the Ducks see Randy Carlyle behind the bench. The Ducks have had some major changes in coaching staff this season, and a lot of us think that’s a sign their moving in a new direction. A lot of Ducks fans are pushing for the San Diego Gulls coach, Dallas Eakins, to take over. Me included.

Detroit Red Wings
(Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Corey Perry; Ryan Tetzlaff /

BH: When I think of Corey Perry, I get a knot in my stomach.  He’s the type of player that has made my blood pressure rise watching him compete against the Detroit Red Wings over the years.  He is out with a knee Injury, how long is he expected to be sidelined and what does his absence mean to the Ducks?

CH: I think we all have that one player who makes our blood pressure rise when we watch them play. Corey Perry is on my favorite team and sometimes he makes my blood pressure rise too. However, Corey Perry is a big part of why I became a Ducks fan. The first time I ever watched the Ducks play, he scored the game-winning goal. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Perry is pretty much the player everyone loves to hate. I think a few teams are breathing a sigh of relief that he’s out for the next few months. I don’t consider him to be a dirty player, but sometimes he does step over the line.

During the Ducks preseason, Corey Perry had surgery to repair a meniscus and MCL injury in his right knee. He’s expected to be out for the next five months. It’s been predicted that he probably won’t return any sooner than the February trade deadline.

It is a major loss for the Ducks. Perry isn’t the best skater in the NHL by any stretch. However, the Ducks rely on him to make big plays. He is one of the Ducks most prolific point producers in the past decade. Perry had the potential to have another 50+ point season. Especially considering he had a lot to prove, not only the fans and his team but himself, after his drop in production the last two seasons. Now he is out for the foreseeable future.

The team is going to need to reassess and shuffle things around. They’re going to have to rely on some of their younger guys to step up again and take on more responsibility. They’re also going to need to appoint someone who has the skills to take his place as an alternate captain. When he comes back, Ducks Nation is all hoping he has a come back a la Teemu Selanne.

BH: Who are you most excited to see on the Detroit Red Wings and Why?

CH: The Detroit Red Wings have a lot of new faces this season! The Red Wings have a few vets to anchor them and keep them accountable, which is a great foundation to build upon. However, their young players are going to determine what the future of this team looks like.

I’m interested to see what the Ducks could be up against the next decade or so. There are two players that I’m particularly excited to see on the ice! Both of them are young, but from the looks of it, the Ducks may have to keep a close eye on them.

Dylan Larkin is probably an obvious choice. He had an impressive season last year, and I think with (hopefully) more stability, he is going to have a phenomenal season. Not many players can say they had a 63 point season at 21. If he keeps improving, he could easily have another 60-70 point per season.

Dennis Cholowski is another player I’m eager to see. He seems to have electric energy and a high hockey IQ. He isn’t afraid to let his presence be known. Confidence like that is good, especially in a rookie. Netting a goal in his first game, especially as a defenseman, is a sign that he’s going to be a great asset to the Detroit Red Wings.

BH:  The Detroit Red Wings have lost their heartbeat and captain Henrik Zetterberg to a career-ending back injury.  The rebuilding Red Wings decided to roll this season with four associate captains.  Do you think that was the right decision rather than appointing a new captain right away?

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CH: I think this was a good decision. I am of the opinion that it’s better to ease someone into a leadership position than throw them in head first and expect them to succeed. I’m sure as the season plays out, they will know for sure next season who their new captain will be.

However, it is vital that these four alternate captains be a good example to their team. Especially with so many young players!

I’ve seen it on the Ducks time and time again. If the leadership is acting out, young players will follow suit (the first round of the playoffs last season was a perfect example.) When the leadership is leading with integrity, the players are more apt to do so as well.

The alternate captains need to do what is best for the success of their team. It is a partnership, not a democracy. They all share equal power. Mostly, they need to work as together as one and keep the entire team accountable. The rest of the team will follow suit.

In any other sport, not to disrespect them at all, but I would say this is setting the team up for a disaster. However, the great thing about hockey players is that because the NHL has such high standards, the majority of them are men of good moral fiber. They don’t seem to be particularly power hungry. As Sydney Crosby once said, “I play for the logo on the front, not the name on the back.”

If the men wearing the “A” for Detroit this season play by that standard, it will be a successful year. And, as I always say, “success does not mean winning. Success means growing. It’s a process of moving forward in the right direction so that, in the future, you will be victorious.”

Next. Predicting the Detroit Red Wings Team leaders. dark

Once again; I would like to thank Ciara for taking time out of her busy day to speak with me about the Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks matchup later tonight.