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Back to Basics

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com


Beginning tomorrow night, the Ducks hope a little home cooking will cure some of their recent woes.

“It’s nice to be back,” Ryan said. “We need to play the brand of hockey that we’re accustomed to. We can get back to it, put that in the past and move on. The good thing is it’s early in the year and plenty of time to make up some ground here.”
Anaheim will play 11 of its next 13 games at Honda Center and will only have to leave Southern California once (for a quick trip to Phoenix on Nov. 23) until December 8. That is welcomed news for a club coming off a 1-3-3 road trip and looking for a jumpstart. In all, the Ducks have only played four home games thus far, currently tying them for the least in the NHL.

“It’s nice to be back,” Bobby Ryan said. “Trips like that are an absolute nightmare. We were just starting to recover and get back to normal from Europe and you have to go do that. It makes it tough to be successful. We need to play the brand of hockey that we’re accustomed to. We can get back to it, put that in the past and move on. The good thing is it’s early in the year and plenty of time to make up some ground here.”

Despite their current struggles, having only won once in their last nine contests, the Ducks are still within two points of the eighth spot in the Western Conference. A good showing in this lengthy homestand could drastically change their position.

“It’s been tough for us,” Lubomir Visnovsky said. “We can change and just have to play. We are focused on tomorrow. Nashville plays very good and is a hard-working team. We want to go out and play our style, especially in a home game.”

With so much firepower at their disposal, the Ducks have accustomed to being among the top half of teams in the league in goals scored. Since Randy Carlyle took over as head coach in 2005, the club has only finished below 15th in the league in goals once (2007-08). Early on this campaign, the club is having difficulties getting the puck into the net and ranks last in goals per game (1.86).

“It’s been tough for us,” Visnovsky said. “We can change and just have to play. We are focused on tomorrow. Nashville plays very good and is a hard-working team. We want to go out and play our style, especially in a home game.”
A strong power play is usually a considerable asset for the Ducks, with weapons like Visnovsky, Ryan, Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf picking apart opposing penalty kill units. That too has been an area of concern for Anaheim, as it's only converting at a clip of 13.2 percent (26th in the league).

Whether it’s with the man-advantage or even strength, every Duck seems to agree that playing a simpler type of game is what they will need in order to get some goals up on the scoreboard.

“You have to get back to basics, crash the net and try to find a way to get some garbage ones,” said Ryan, who is tied with Perry and Selanne for the team lead with five goals. “Our line, being the catalyst and the line that we rely heavily upon, has to find a way to break the slump. We just have to be better.”

Said Carlyle, “There is an imaginary box that everybody paints out from the goaltender’s net.  If you are in that area, any shot from there is a decent scoring chance. We can’t pass those up. We have to be as simple as possible, direct pucks to the net, get a decent screen and get some second or third opportunities in that area. That is what our mandate is.”

Going against the Predators tomorrow night, their playoff adversary from one season ago, the Ducks will be aiming for a return to form in hopes of beginning their lengthy stint at home on a winning note.

“We are going to focus on our start,” Carlyle said. “That is an area where we haven’t done a very good job. If you look at any team in the league, the team’s scoring the first goal are winning (a majority) of the games.  We have to get off to a decent start feel comfortable in our building.”

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