DALLAS - After arriving into the city in the early evening yesterday, the Ducks got back to work today inside American Airlines Center - the site of tomorrow's regular season opener against the Dallas Stars. The 23 players that made the opening night roster were on the ice today, including rookie forwards Joseph Cramarossa and Nick Sorensen, and defenseman Jacob Larsson. Line combinations appeared unchanged from what we've seen over the past few days, but we'll see if that sticks come game time.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle says reuniting Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry during the preseason finale seemed to stabilize the rest of the team. But if he needs a different look in-game tomorrow, Carlyle says he won't be afraid of switching things up on the fly.
"We just felt in the last game, we weren't anywhere near where we needed to be," said Carlyle. "We seemed to get our feet underneath us once we put some people back together. Getzlaf-Perry has been a staple for a long time here, but in certain situations we'll move people around."
The Ducks again dedicated a good chunk of practice to the power play, which definitely wasn't without its issues during the preseason. Anaheim went 0-for-23 with the man advantage over seven exhibition games, and never really seemed in sync with the extra attacker. That'll have to change beginning tomorrow.
I guess you could say today's practice had a different "feel" to it than previous days. Maybe it was Carlyle's voice bellowing through the cavernous arena, or the seemingly heightened sense of concentration from the players. Regardless, games mean something now, and defenseman Cam Fowler is excited to finally get things going.
"We've all come together for the last month or so and gotten through a tough training camp," Fowler said. "It's an exciting time and hopefully the start of good things to come. As you go along, you get more comfortable and start gearing up for Game 1. Randy really preached execution out there today, and not going through the motions. Sometimes it's easy to get through the drill instead of executing to the best of your ability. I thought the guys did a good job of that today."
The Stars were one of the best teams in the regular season last year, and the same expectations have carried over. Dallas finished with the second-best record in the NHL and came within one win of reaching the Western Conference Final. The Stars came out of the gates flying, and were 12-3-0 after 15 games, 17-4-0 after 21 games and 28-8-3 after 39 last season.
"They like to play that track-meet game," said Carlyle. "If you allow them to continually enter with speed, you're going to be in trouble. Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza are two highly-skilled centers. Jamie Benn is one of the top players in the league. They can put the puck in the net and play at a high pace. Their defensemen like to join the rush. We can't allow their defensemen to be consistently up the ice. That's creating havoc for us."
The Ducks will hold their pregame skate here at American Airlines Center in the early afternoon tomorrow. Stay tuned throughout the day on AnaheimDucks.com for continued coverage leading up to the game.