Struggling on the Pond

The Anaheim Ducks really hope their second month as defending Stanley Cup champions goes better than their first.

The Ducks (4-7-2) will try to snap a four-game skid and avenge a shutout loss earlier this season to Columbus when they meet the streaking Blue Jackets (7-3-1) on Thursday night at the Honda Center.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Anaheim -181 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Columbus +161 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

The Ducks already have matched their longest losing streak from last season, which ended with them being the first California-based team to win the Stanley Cup. Anaheim hasn't lost five in a row since an eight-game slide from Nov. 3-20, 2005.

Fatigue and injuries could be why the Ducks have gotten off to a rocky start. They opened with a two-game set in London, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere has played in just five games following offseason sports hernia surgery, and veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider is recovering from a broken foot and has yet to make his debut as a replacement for Conn Smythe Trophy winner Scott Niedermayer.

Forward Ryan Getzlaf has missed three straight games with an injured wrist and hard-nosed right wing Todd Bertuzzi has sat out six straight due to a concussion.

Anaheim also is winless in six road games, and in fourth place in the Pacific Division with just 10 points. Perhaps the only good news for the Ducks is they're only three points behind first-place San Jose.

Corey Perry had a goal and assist in regulation, but Giguere was beaten twice in the shootout en route to a 3-2 loss to Edmonton on Sunday. Giguere, who's just 1-3-1 despite a respectable 2.42 goals-against average, gave up a late short-handed goal to Oilers rookie Andrew Cogliano that tied the score at 2.

"It's disappointing. We lost a point," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "I think the way we lost it - on a short-handed goal with 1:27 left - puts an exclamation mark on it, from that standpoint. We just seem to be snake-bitten."

Columbus, meanwhile, has never reached the playoffs in its previous six seasons. But the Blue Jackets have won their last three road games against the Ducks, with two of those victories coming in shootouts.

The Blue Jackets opened 2007-08 with a 4-0 shutout of the Ducks on Oct. 5 in Columbus. Pascal Leclaire made 28 saves for the first of his league-leading four shutouts, and Rick Nash had two goals and two assists.

Under defensive-minded coach Ken Hitchcock, the Blue Jackets have emerged as perhaps the most pleasant surprise in the league this season as their 21 goals allowed are the fewest in the Western Conference.

"We play a very good defensive game, and teams that play against us are having a real hard time getting scoring chances in the slot," Leclaire said after making 33 saves in a 4-1 win over Los Angeles on Wednesday. "Right now we're very sound and very aware of what's going on in our zone. We're a confident bunch now and we feel that way against everybody."

Leclaire improved to 6-2-0 with a 1.25 GAA after going just 6-15-2 with a 2.97 GAA in 24 games during an injury-shortened 2006-07 season.

Jason Chimera scored twice against the Kings, and Nash added his team-high ninth goal with a late empty-netter. He has four goals and three assists on the road, all coming in the last three games.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

More NHL Hockey coverage from theSpread.com

 - NHL Hockey news wire
 - NHL top stories
 - Current NHL injuries
 - NHL Hockey schedule
 - NHL Hockey standings
 - NHL goalie stats
 - NHL Hockey scoreboard
 - NHL Hockey odds
 - NHL public betting charts
 - Expert NHL Picks
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
 - NHL Home

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Penguins-Sharks Series Preview After a much-needed respite, Pittsburgh and San Jose return to the ice Monday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. Which side will own the upper hand when the action...
Thumbnail Lightning vs. Penguins Game 7 Pick Will it be a high-scoring game 7 when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins meet tonight at 8PM...
Thumbnail Blues vs. Sharks Game 6 Pick The San Jose Sharks look to close out the Western Conference Finals tonight at 9PM ET when they host the St. Louis Blues in...
Thumbnail Penguins vs. Lightning Game 6 Pick Can the Tampa Bay Lightning close out the Eastern Conference Finals when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at 8PM ET in...
Thumbnail Sharks vs. Blues Game 5 Pick Which team will take a key 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals tonight as the St. Louis Blueshost the San Jose Sharks...
More inNHL Articles  

NHL Headlines

More inNHL News  

NHL Team Pages