ANAHEIM — For a defenseman in the NHL, points don’t generally look impressive when compared to the statistics of forwards, but there are other stats that can mean opening up a passing lane for the higher priced talent. Or sliding in off the blue line to inside the face-off circle pulling a defenseman away from the play.
Defensive highlights don’t usually make the sports replay shows but can win a game just as surely with a blocked shot or a poke check.
Six Nations Brandon Montour has been making those kinds of plays even in games where he may not appear of the scoresheet.
Montour and the Anaheim Ducks closed out 2017 with a mediocre December, consisting of six wins, six losses and two overtime losses worth a point each. During that same time spread, Montour chalked up six assists. But from watching many of those games, Montour has been more than doing his job.
As what is commonly called the second half of the season begins in the New Year, the Ducks have some work to do but are sitting pretty well buried in the middle of the divisional pack.
Sunday, New Year’s Eve, the Ducks and the Arizona Coyotes went head-to-head against visiting Arizona in an afternoon game.
Rickard Rakell scored twice, Cam Fowler and Jakob Silfverberg each had a goal and an assist, Ryan Kesler got his first two assists of the season, and John Gibson made 23 saves for Anaheim (18-14-8), which has won four of its past five games.
“We were just trying to find balance in our lineup and trying to put people in places they could be comfortable with and give them an opportunity to have success. We’re a work in progress. We haven’t had our team together for more than four or five games now,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.
Anaheim visited Vancouver in a Tuesday night matchup on the west coast that will miss our deadline. Thursday, the Ducks stay out west against the Edmonton Oilers and a stop in Calgary while in the neighbourhood, Saturday.