7 observations from the first 7 games of the Ducks’ homestand

7 observations from the first 7 games of the Ducks’ homestand

The current homestand doesn’t just feel like the longest one for the Ducks. At 10 games, it really is the longest one in franchise history.

Three games remain – Boston on Sunday, Edmonton on Wednesday and New Jersey on Friday. The Boston game will be highlighted by the return of defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who will be playing in Anaheim for the first time since he was traded from the Ducks to the Bruins in March. Lindholm played against his former teammates in the Bruins’ 2-1 shootout win in Boston on Oct. 20.

And so, with the first seven games of the 10 in the books, here are seven thoughts and observations on the front end of the run at Honda Center:

1. McTavish marvels

Ducks rookie center Mason McTavish hit the next level on this homestand with five goals in seven games, including three in the past two in wins against Dallas and San Jose. McTavish, scoring two goals and adding two assists vs. the Sharks, became the second-youngest player in Ducks’ history with a four-point game, according to the NHL’s Morning Skate. The youngest? Stanislav Chistov, at 19 years, 176 days, on Oct. 10, 2002.

2. Chistov who?

That promptly sent us down the Chistov rabbit hole. The four-point performance by Chistov, on one goal and three assists, came in the Ducks’ season opener vs. St. Louis and was the most points in an NHL debut since 1977. Chistov finished with a 40-point rookie season (12 goals, 18 assists) but never consistently delivered on the promise he showed in his debut and slumped in a big way in his second season.

3. Young guns

Two dates to circle on your calendar: March 7, four days after the trade deadline, and March 30. The Ducks play both days at Seattle against the Kraken and Matty Beniers. The Seattle star center and McTavish are one-two in the NHL’s rookie scoring race, with Beniers holding a two-point lead heading into Saturday’s action.

Another player who has been firmly in the rookie mix – the Coyotes’ Matias Maccelli – suffered a lower-body injury just before the holiday break and could be out for six weeks, according to Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports.

4. Keeping tabs

Asked if he is paying close attention to the rookie race, McTavish said, “Not really. Honestly, I just have a couple of buddies around the league, my age, and I just check in on how they’re doing.”

The one good friend McTavish specifically mentioned was Kent Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who has 16 points in 34 games. Columbus happens to be the third stop – on Jan. 19 – on the Ducks’ upcoming trip.

5.Young pups

Injured defenseman Jamie Drysdale was talking about how McTavish and Trevor Zegras are usually the last players on the ice at practice. It looks like they are developing a brotherly-type dynamic, but Ducks coach Dallas Eakins had a better description.

“The way him and Z go back at each other, they’re like two little puppy dogs that are playing together, right?” Eakins said on Thursday. “One (puppy) runs over and bites the other one….He (McTavish) does have a lot of kid in him as well.”

Looks like someone lost a #WorldJuniors bet 😂#FlyTogether | @Opendoor pic.twitter.com/2KevXkYs8m

— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) January 7, 2023

6. Stick around

Zegras, of course, has plenty of kid in him too. You never know what he is going to do on the ice, which is why it shouldn’t have been overly surprising that he was penalized for taking an opponent’s stick in the Dallas game.

“I was there pleading for Z with the ref,” Ducks forward Ryan Strome said, smiling. “There was nothing we could do about that one.”

Strome’s brother, Washington Capitals forward Dylan Strome, once used an opponent’s stick to score a goal in 2017 when Strome was playing with OHL Erie.  He took Brandon Crowley’s stick after Crowley had taken his stick.

“He (Crowley) was a Rangers’ draft pick,” Ryan Strome said. “I met the guy and he was like, ‘Your brother scored that goal. It was pretty funny.’ I said, ‘Oh that was you.’”

7. No longer last

Drum roll … the Ducks’ penalty kill is no longer at the bottom of the league. The PK is now 29th, heading into Saturday’s action, ahead of Seattle, St. Louis and Vancouver. The Stars were 0 for 4 on the power play on Wednesday against the Ducks and the Sharks went 0 for 2. Anaheim has allowed one power-play goal in its past six games, which came in a 6-1 loss to the Predators on Dec. 30.

Boston at Ducks

When: 5: 30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Honda Center

TV: Bally Sports West