Evgeny Artyukhin faces his former Tampa Bay Lightning teammates; Mattias Ohlund out
It was kind of fun visiting with Evgeny Artyukhin after Thursday’s morning skate at the Honda Center. The big Russian’s face broke into a huge smile when he saw a couple members from the Tampa Bay area media waiting in the Ducks locker room.
Artyukhin was always a likable guy, and even if his English wasn’t always right on the nose, he was always willing to talk. This is what we got out of him as he prepared for the game with the Lightning, the first time he will face his former team since the trade that sent him to Anaheim for wing Drew Miller.
Artyukhin said he lives in a nice condo by the ocean, and the notorious southern California traffic isn’t all that bad. He said it only takes him about 30 minutes to drive to the rink.
He said he has not found a girlfriend, though he admits not looking that hard.
He also said, in a way, he misses Tampa.
“It was my first team, and I spent a lot of time with Tampa in the whole organization,” Artyukhin said. “It feels like a home.”
As for hockey, Artyukhin is facing some of the same problems with the Ducks that prompted the Lightning to give up on him. Mainly, he takes bad penalties. In 16 games, and averaging only 8:27 of ice time, he has 25 minutes in the penalty box.
“We’re working with him as far as some of the things we think can improve his positional play so he’s not exposed,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “He’s shown some growth in those areas for us. We have to be satisfied that he has shown the growth. … He’s been a victim of his strength at times by taking penalties. He’s a player who can never take his hand off a stick in the offensive zone to check. He should always play with two hands on his stick, because no matter what he does, he seems to be in the box for it in the offensive zone, specifically.”
Other stuff from the morning skate: Defenseman Mattias Ohlund (right ankle) will not play against Anaheim, and it is unclear if he will play during the final two games of the road trip. The good news is Ohlund is no longer wearing the walking boot. “He’s improving,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “With these things, 24 hours can make a difference, but we’re definitely going to err on the side of caution with him. I don’t want him aggravating it. We want him as close to 100 percent as possible.” Ohlund said he is a bit surprised the injury, sustained Saturday against the Kings when his skate caught in the ice, has lingered as long as it has, but said of being out of the boot, “It’s a good sign.” … Tocchet was funny when asked if he felt good Ohlund was walking without a boot. Referencing the Lightning’s rash of injuries last season, he said, “I’ve seen enough of those walking boots. There’s a store in Tampa Bay somewhere.” … Tocchet again praised defenseman Lukas Krajicek, who has played seven straight games (three with more than 20 minutes) and is minus-1. “He’s got to be a little more aggressive at times, but he’s played well,” Tocchet said. “I have to give him a lot of credit. If he can be consistent, he can be a very good defenseman in the NHL.” … The last time the Lightning was in Anaheim, it was the first game in which center Steven Stamkos was scratched as part of a process to make him hockey smarter and stronger. “We just had to take a step back with him,” Tocchet said. “We put a lot of pressure on him with expectations, and we had to take a step back.” … Expect the Ducks to come out strong. Carlyle called Anaheim’s just-finished 0-3-1 road trip “embarrassing,” and said the game against Tampa Bay is “tremendously important to our team.” … Tocchet said not to get all worked up about the Lightning’s 4-0-2 streak or its 3-0-1 road streak as he put a lot of credit on the goaltending of Antero Niittymaki and Mike Smith. In the past four road games, the pair has combined for a 1.46 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage. “They’re covering up some mistakes,” Tocchet said, such as allowing too many odd-man rushes and too many shots on goal. … In order to stem some of the odd-man rushes, and help captain Vinny Lecavalier perhaps get a few more scoring opportunities, Lecavalier has been moved off the power-play point to the side wall from where he can create by either passing or driving to the net. While Ohlund is out, Kurtis Foster and his big right-handed shot has a spot on the point.