11:30 a.m. – Players board the bus for an afternoon practice at Prudential Center across the river in Newark, New Jersey. This will be the first time the team skates on the main sheet, as yesterday the Ducks took part in a 40-minute practice across the hallway at AmeriHealth Pavilion.
12:00 p.m. – The bus arrives at Prudential Center and players make their way through the labyrinth of walkways that make up the ground level of the arena. First-timers can easily get lost trying to find a way out of here.
12:45 p.m. – Arena lights are turned on to fully illuminate the inside of Prudential Center, and the Ducks start making their way onto the ice for what will be a 45-minute practice.
Much like Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Prudential Center’s rafters are filled with banners chronicling the team’s success. And in one corner hangs Scott Niedermayer’s retired #27 banner. Niedermayer had his jersey retired in a ceremony at Prudential Center on Dec. 16, 2011 prior to New Jersey’s game against the Dallas Stars. The Hall-of-Famer captured three Stanley Cups with the Devils and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2003-04.
1:00 p.m. – Head coach Bruce Boudreau blows his whistle to signal the start of practice. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner skate on their usual line, while Jakob Silfverberg takes shifts with Andrew Cogliano and Saku Koivu. Silfverberg scored a goal two nights ago in his return to the lineup, and his line with Cogliano and Koivu was a threat throughout the game.
Absent from practice is goaltender Viktor Fasth, who was sent back to Anaheim earlier in the day to resume skating and continue his recovery. Fasth has been dealing with a lower-body injury he suffered in pre-game warm up on Nov. 22 against Tampa Bay at Honda Center, forcing him to miss nine consecutive games.
“He’s not ready to play this weekend,” said Boudreau. “If he could’ve gotten a couple good practices in, then there would’ve been a chance he could play. But, we decided we’d be pushing it a bit.
“I’m sure Vik is frustrated. We’re frustrated only because we love Vik. He’s frustrated on a personal level because he works so hard at the game. To have something impeding the way you want to feel as a goalie, I think you have to feel perfect as a goalie. As a player, you can play with all the bumps and bruises and sore legs and arms. But I think as a goalie, you’ve got to really feel good.”
2:00 p.m. – The affable Kent French (@KentFrench) makes his way into the locker room and asks players lighthearted Christmas-related questions, such as, “If you had one teammate to buy a gift for, who would it be, and what would it be?” Nick Bonino and hair growth products seem to be popular answers among those being interviewed. Perhaps the best answer comes from Getzlaf, who says he’ll buy Nick a hairpiece. “He’s really struggling with this whole thing, much like I was about five years ago when it started to go. I gave up a couple years back, so I just shaved it. Bones is just hanging on, so we’d like to give him a nice hairpiece.”
2:30 p.m. – Players make their way out of Prudential Center and back onto the bus, where it will take them back to the hotel in Jersey City.
3:00 p.m. – The bus takes a scenic route back to the hotel, showing off New York City’s impressive skyline. As the bus pulls into the hotel, players begin planning their next moves. For some, it’s a chance to enjoy a late-afternoon nap. For others, a quick walk down the street for a post-practice meal.