After a couple of games played over in Europe the Anaheim Ducks are ready to get their 2011 campaign kicked off at home against the San Jose Sharks Friday night. These divisional foes took the ice against each other last Saturday in a preseason matchup, but are ready to drop the puck for the first time at the Honda Center during the regular season.
The Ducks managed only two goals on their Europe trip, but will look to take advantage of the Sharks depleted keeper core as both Anti Niemi and backup Antero Niittymaki are out due to injury. That leaves it up to replacement Thomas Greiss for San Jose, who got his first win in goal since 2010 against the Coyotes last Saturday. On the other side of the coin, Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller played every second in both games over in Europe, looking like he has completely recovered after missing almost three months at the end of the 2010-11 season due to vertigo related symptoms.
One thing to keep an eye on this evening is the stamina of the Ducks players. Traveling back and forth from across the pond takes more of a toll than one might imagine, something that coach Rick Carlyle is well aware of:
"This recovery from Europe isn't just a one-day or a two-day event when you travel the number of hours we did and the difference in time change. There's some nights now where they're ... having trouble getting to sleep."
Another problem has been the power play for Anaheim, who haven't been taking advantage like the should be considering their potent roster. The Ducks converted 36.4 percent of their power-play opportunities against San Jose last season, hopefully something that will continue this evening.
Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm PT with coverage on Fox Prime Ticket.
For more discussion and analysis of the Ducks, head over to Anaheim Calling.