Nearly at the one-month mark of Bruce Boudreau’s hiring as Ducks head coach, his influence can already be seen on the team’s offense.
|“Bruce is a vocal guy,” Beleskey said. “He lets you know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. I find that helps a lot to know what he wants from me, then go out there and just try to do it. It’s been good so far. Any time you get to contribute, it’s huge. Hopefully I’m on an upswing now.” |
Anaheim is scoring 2.636 goals per game in the 11 games under Boudreau thus far, up from the 2.208 rate the club had during its first 24 games of 2011-12 prior to the coaching change. That uptick in production has been seen across the board, as more players on the Ducks are starting to find themselves on the scoresheet.
One notable name has been Matt Beleskey
, the 23-year-old left winger who found himself scoreless and on waivers in late November. But since Boudreau’s Nov. 30 hiring, Beleskey has turned the corner and tallied five assists in 11 games. His helper on a drop pass to linemate Andrew Cogliano
proved to be the game-winner in last night’s 3-2 victory, Anaheim’s first road victory in nearly two months.
“Bruce is a vocal guy,” Beleskey said. “He lets you know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. I find that helps a lot to know what he wants from me, then go out there and just try to do it. It’s been good so far. Any time you get to contribute, it’s huge. Hopefully I’m on an upswing now.”Post-Practice Video
In the last three games, Boudreau has had Beleskey playing alongside Cogliano on the club’s third line. Kyle Palmieri
saw action there in the first two of those, before giving way to Andrew Gordon last night against the Sharks. The head coach has been pleased with Beleskey’s performance in that grouping.
“I thought the last three games, he and Cogliano sort of simultaneously have really picked it up and given us that third-line ability to put them out there and look for something positive to happen, rather than hope nothing negative happens,” Boudreau said. “About a week ago, we put him on the fourth line. I think that woke him up a little bit. He’s been working his butt off ever since. I told him today how good he played last night. If he continues to play like that, he’s going to score goals.”
Scoring goals is something Beleskey had grown accustomed to doing in other stages of his career. He put up 41 in his final junior hockey season with Belleville in 2007-08 and showed signs of promise with 11 as a rookie with the Ducks in 2009-10.
“I have always been a guy who can score and put up points,” Beleskey said. “When that is not coming, you have to find other things in your game that are going to keep you in the place you are. I’m still goal-less, but I can feel it coming. It’s something that I’m trying not to think about.
“I find if you don’t think about scoring, you seem to score more. If you are focused on doing the defensive things and playing smart hockey, the goals are going to come.”
|“It’s the only way you can win,” Boudreau said. “If you look at every good team, they get contributions throughout their lineup. Look at the Stanley Cup champions, they rolled four lines. If you can get four lines contributing, it makes you a very difficult team to play against." |
Fresh off getting that road monkey off their back last night, the Ducks will begin a six-game homestand on Thursday against the Canucks. Boudreau hopes to see his group string some wins together and for the balanced scoring attack to continue trending upward.
“It’s the only way you can win,” Boudreau said. “If you look at every good team, they get contributions throughout their lineup. Look at the Stanley Cup champions, they rolled four lines. If you can get four lines contributing, it makes you a very difficult team to play against.
“That has always been the goal of a team I coached is to be a four-line team, rather than rely on two-three players. We won the game last night and Perry and Getzlaf weren’t on the scoresheet. You need games like that.”Notes
Linemates in the past, Saku Koivu
(groin) and Jason Blake
(wrist) both participated in Tuesday afternoon’s practice at Honda Center after missing games with injuries.
Koivu, who last played on Dec. 8 at St. Louis, is inching closer to a return. “It’s coming along well,” the veteran center said. “It’s one of those things where you have to take it a day at a time, gradually get the intensity up, push it more in practice and get involved in contact. We’ll see how it is tomorrow and take it from there. I’m hoping that there won’t be any setbacks and then join the lineup in the next couple of days.”
Said Boudreau of Koivu, “To me, you have the puzzle starting to take form, but you have that one piece that you can’t find. He’s the piece. You get him in, he takes faceoffs, kills penalties and he’s a leader. Those are intangibles that sometimes you don’t get and he has it. We would love to get him back as soon as possible.”
For Blake, it was his first practice back with the team since suffering a deep laceration to his left wrist via the skate of San Jose’s Brent Burns on Oct. 14. “I have to start strengthening my arm. I have been doing a lot with my wrists and the area that I injured. Now, it’s about strengthening my triceps, my bicep and going down that route. It’s been a long two and half months. It felt really good to be out there, but I also know it’s going to take some time to get back into shape and get strong again.”
Added Boudreau, “Wow, I hadn’t practiced with him since (2000-01) in Lowell. That was fun. His conditioning is not that bad. He skated hard. It’s the strength of his wrist. He was shooting the puck okay. I don’t think that is going to be the deterrent. It’s the battling and pushing with the wrist.
“He’s going to be the only one who will be able to make that call. He’s a pretty determined young man. I think he’ll be back sooner than you think.”