|“You have to keep working at it,” Niedermayer said about the Ducks special teams. “Our power play for the most part has been scoring some goals. Our PK has given us some trouble some games, but we have guys here that should be able to get the job done. We want to be better.” |
It’s no secret among the Ducks that when head coach Randy Carlyle issues a day off like they enjoyed Thursday, the first day back to practice will surely make up for lost time.
In what looked like training camp revisited, the Ducks took part in a double-session of practice at Anaheim Ice on Friday. After departing to the locker room following their regular drills, the Ducks re-emerged on the ice to pay careful consideration to special teams – both the power play and penalty kill.
“We’ve definitely improved over the last 10 games with both of those,” Carlyle said. “For us, we have to continue to show improvement as we go through the season. There is going to be a lot of 2-1, 3-2, 1-0 hockey games played over the next while. It’s important that we have those special teams operating at a premium for us.”
Following a difficult start on both special team fronts to start the 2008-09 campaign, the Ducks’ ranking among the league has progressively risen in recent weeks. Currently, Anaheim is tied for eighth in the NHL on the power play (21.6 percent) and tied for 14th on the penalty kill (81.5 percent).
“You have to keep working at it,” Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said. “Our power play for the most part has been scoring some goals. Our PK has given us some trouble some games, but we have guys here that should be able to get the job done. We want to be better.”
A boost to those power play numbers has been the dominance of Teemu Selanne with the man advantage. The Finnish Flash’s 13 power play goals leads the league by a margin of five (St. Louis’s Keith Tkachuk and Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek are tied in second with eight apiece). The output is also more than halfway to his franchise record of 25 that he owns in two different seasons with the Ducks (1998-99 and 2006-07). Selanne’s last 13 goals have all come on the man advantage, the second-longest such streak in NHL history.
“He’s getting a lot of chances on the power play,” Carlyle said. “Teemu has been an offensive player and if he continues to get those chances, we know he’ll score goals.”
|Selanne has been a bright spot for the Ducks power play, leading the league by a wide margin with 13 PP goals. |
Carlyle stressed the necessity of having additional players find the net on the power play, as opponents will continue to try to limit those opportunities for Selanne, even though it as been mostly to no avail so far this season. Besides Selanne, the rest of the Ducks have a combined nine PP goals.
“I think it’s important that it’s not just Teemu on our power play,” Carlyle said. “There is room for improvement in that area and that all the players that get those minutes make a contribution in the goal-scoring department.”
Another area of improvement recently has been the team’s play at home. Uncharacteristically near the .500 mark (7-6-2) in the friendly confines of Honda Center, the Ducks have won the last two in Anaheim and three of their last four. They will look to continue that upward trend on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“We want to establish again that we have a building that is tough to play in for the opposition,” Carlyle said. “The seventh member of our team on the ice is our fans because they are into it. We have a group of fans that support our hockey club and they are boisterous.”
Notes: Brad Larsen (sports hernia surgery) continues to experience pain and is now having his hip evaluated as a result of the problem according to Carlyle. Out of the lineup since Nov. 19 against Washington, Brian Sutherby (strained groin) is currently limited to off-ice workouts as a result of his injury.