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Ducks hope to bounce back in Ottawa as trade winds swirl – Daily News

Coming off perhaps their most lackluster effort of the season, the Ducks rambled on to Canada’s capital for a throwdown with the Ottawa Senators.

It will hardly be a repeat of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final between these two clubs, as the Sens bring up the rear in the Atlantic Division and the Ducks are entrenched in second-to-last place in the Pacific. But Ottawa has won four straight games and its point total is eight greater than that of the Ducks.

The Ducks’ somnambulist effort in Montreal produced an anemic level of shots on net and a 5-0 loss to a Canadiens team that was fresh off a 7-2 loss to St. Louis.

“We were flat and passive. We watched Montreal beat us to loose pucks,” Coach Greg Cronin said via text.

“Ottawa is getting healthy and has depth now with a blend of size, speed and scoring. Their ‘D’ will add support to their offensive talent, allowing them to attack in waves,” he continued.

Ottawa forward Shane Pinto served a 41-game suspension related to gambling and has returned with a vengeance. His six points across Ottawa’s four-game surge tie captain Brady Tkachuk, who scored a hat trick against Columbus on Tuesday, for the team lead during that span.

The Ducks also got players back, albeit to little avail, as defenseman Pavel Mintyukov (shoulder) played for the first time since Jan. 9 and forward Mason McTavish (upper body) returned after a one-game absence. Winger Alex Killorn (knee) was on the trip and progressing toward a return.

The trend of adding bodies could quickly go in the other direction, even if the Ducks’ vexations on the injury front were to finally cease. The March 8 NHL trade deadline could mean more departures for the Ducks, who already dealt Jamie Drysdale for prospect Cutter Gauthier earlier this season.

One player Cronin expressed a desire to keep in the fold was Trevor Zegras. Zegras has been sidelined with a broken ankle since Jan. 9, but that has not prevented him from running a marathon through the rumor mill.

Ahead of his club’s belly flop against the Canadiens, Cronin spoke to Guillaume Lefrançois of La Presse about his offseason conversation with former Boston University coach Albie O’Connell, who developed Zegras at the NCAA level.

“He said ‘he’s a really misunderstood kid,’ because you’ve got one side of him where he’s a media magnet, and that stems from the acrobatic play he has with the puck and some of the circus things that he does that are really unique,” Cronin said. “When you shave that away from him and you look at him as a person, he’s really committed, he’s a very high-IQ guy and he’s very coachable.”

Cronin, who stapled Zegras to his seat early in the season, spoke of the 22-year-old’s character, receptiveness to direction and the support he consistently offered his teammates, even in the face of his benching against Columbus. In addition to being enthusiastic, Zegras has shown himself to be cerebral.

“There’s only a handful of guys that I’ve coached who can think the game the way that he does,” Cronin said.

The shutout in Montreal snapped the seven-game points streak of Adam Henrique, who is perhaps the most tantalizing name on the trade board as he plays out the final season of his contract. Henrique’s seventh campaign with the Ducks is on track to be his most productive. He has never topped 43 points in a single season but already has 35, including a recent stretch with 16 points in 13 games.

“Henrique, (Jakob) Silfverberg and (Ilya) Lyubushkin’s names are floating around, they’re older guys that could be trade-deadline pieces, but they’re unbelievable professionals,” Cronin told Lafrançois. “They’re mature enough to know they can’t control that so they’re focusing on being good role models and good mentors.”

DUCKS AT SENATORS

When: Thursday, 4 p.m. PT

Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa

TV: Bally Sports SoCal

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