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Block Party

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com

“It was great to collectively hold them to nothing in the last 1:20 while they were on the power play,” said Sutton.  “It was huge for our team that we can pull together and do that when we need to.”
While Jonas Hiller officially gets credit for the shutout of the Kings last night, it was the guys in front of him who deserve a lot of the praise. Several Ducks put themselves on the line in the final minute of last night’s victory to preserve the 2-0 blanking and a second straight win.

DUCKS INTERVIEWS

Players were lying down on the ice to block shots, others were standing in the way of shooting lanes and all were doing whatever they could to disrupt the Kings from getting to the net. “It was great to collectively hold them to nothing in the last 1:20 while they were on the power play,” said defenseman Andy Sutton.  “It was huge for our team that we can pull together and do that when we need to.”

The 35-year-old Sutton was one of the players out on the ice during that final minute. His 6-6, 245-pound frame got in the way of a Drew Doughty slap shot right before the final horn, a display of the shot-blocking strategy he has built into his game over the 12 seasons in the NHL.

“I had to learn the hard way over the years, with a lot of different fractures,” said Sutton, who has 16 blocked shots for the Ducks in just five games. “You have to be willing to deal with the pain because it’s not glamorous.”

One of the blue line’s younger members, Luca Sbisa, sought Sutton out for advice early in the season on how to incorporate blocking shots into his own game. The two continue to have dialogue on the subject.

“The first thing is the willingness, and Luca wants to do it,” Sutton said. “He asked me about my form and we got him fitted with some pads in the right spots to go down a certain way. He is working on it and he definitely wants to make it part of his game. Anything I can do to help that, I’m be more than happy to lend a hand.”

“It’s huge, especially at the end of the game,” Perry said. “There were three or four big blocks. Those are big play at crucial times. Those help a team come together quickly when guys are sacrificing like that.”
That type of sacrifice is prevalent within a close Ducks locker room. More and more, it is beginning to be displayed on the ice for a team that now sits just two points out of first place in the Pacific Division following back-to-back wins over Phoenix and Los Angeles.

“It’s huge, especially at the end of the game,” Corey Perry said. “There were three or four big blocks. Those are big play at crucial times. Those help a team come together quickly when guys are sacrificing like that.”

The final minute of unity by the Ducks also left an immediate impression on their head coach. “We had an effort from every member of our group,” Randy Carlyle said last night. “That is what is important. The true display was at the end of the game, when people that were on the ice were sacrificing their bodies to block shots and get into shooting lanes to protect that shutout for Jonas Hiller.”

The Ducks will now look to gain even more ground in the standings during the rest of this homestand, which features games against Florida, Detroit and Phoenix in the next six days.

“The mood lightens a little bit when you get wins,” Perry said. “Coming off two big wins against division rivals is huge. Those are four point games and you move up in the standings. That is what we have to continue to build on. These points are crucial. It’s going to be like that all season. We expect a tight race in this whole conference and this division is going to be tight as well.”
 
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