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Ducks Get Back to Work

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

Gordon (left), who scored his second goal of the year against Nashville on Saturday: "As hard as we're working, we're still working on that 'dare to be great' moment."
Following a tough two-game road trip, and a Sunday off, the Ducks were back to work at Honda Center this afternoon. It's the first time the team will be able to practice two straight days since Boudreau took over on November 30. 

Anaheim dropped another frustrating one Saturday night in Nashville, a 3-2 defeat that turned in the Predators' direction in the third period after an agonizing slashing call on Brandon McMillan. That penalty came after McMillan got his stick into Nashville pest Jordin Tootoo away from the play but right in front of the official, whose arm went up immediately. (After the game, both Ryan Getzlaf and Boudreau used the word "cheesy" to describe the call.) Roman Josi scored on the subsequent power play, Tootoo added another a few minutes later, and Francois Beauchemin's goal was all the Ducks would get the rest of the way.

Andrew Gordon, who had his second goal as a Duck to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead, reflected on the team's frustrations when I talked to him after practice today. "I know it's a cliche," he said. "but it just seems like every time we make one mistake, it ends up completely backfiring on us. It is a game of mistakes, and guys are skilled enough where they are going to make you pay for them. We need to keep working in practice on limiting those mistakes and working with this system. Once that becomes second-nature, it will go a lot smoother for us."

While the team practiced today, the Ducks made a "deal with the Devils" (I couldn't resist), a trade that brought in center Rod Pelley, defenseman Mark Fraser and a seventh-round draft pick for defenseman Kurtis Foster and goalie Timo Pielmeier. Pelley, 27, had appeared in just just seven games with the Devils this year, but had played 74 last year, scoring three goals and 10 points.

Now the Ducks just need to acquire Ben Smith from the Blackhawks so they can form a Smith-Pelley-Smith-Pelly line.

The 25-year-old Fraser has played 98 games with the Devils, but just four this year.

Another Ducks defenseman, the sorely missed Lubomir Visnovsky, returned to practice today as he recovers from a broken finger. Visnovsky said he hopes to play Wednesday at home vs. Phoenix, but wasn't yet sure if that was a possibility.

"He made it through practice today and I thought that was a fairly tough practice," said Boudreau. "It just all depends on how he feels and his comfort with the puck. When you get a chance to get your All-Star defenseman back in the lineup, if he’s ready to play, he’ll let us know when he’s ready to play."

Boudreau noted the effect that Visnovsky's absence has had on Cam Fowler, who has played close to 26 minutes a game to make up for that missing piece. "He’s had to play too many minutes for a 20-year-old guy," Boudreau said. "It’s not Cam’s fault. That is not fair to him. You get another veteran in there. It shoulders a lot of minutes and helps him along the way."

Meanwhile, Saku Koivu was out of practice today, and missed the game in Nashville, with what is still being called a lower body injury. He is still "day to day" but Boudreau remarked, "The trainers keep saying he’s getting better and I said ‘That’s means nothing to me. I want to know when he is going to play.’ They said he is getting better and they're hoping he is on the ice tomorrow."

Back to Gordon, who said despite the Ducks' disappointments, he sees a light at the end of what has become a very long tunnel.

"It's amazing and frustrating on so many levels that I don't know where to begin," he said of the team's struggles. "But we still believe in each other in here. We still believe things can turn around at the drop of a hat. All we need is that one bounce, that one game that turns things in our favor.

"As hard as we're working, we're still working on that 'dare to be great' moment."

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This story by Jenelyn Russo
on the OC Register's website, about Cam Fowler speaking at the Ducks Die Hards booster club's holiday party, had one anecdote from Fowler that I found particularly funny. Fowler was asked about the first time he met Boudreau:

"I introduced myself to Coach and he must not have understood me," said Fowler, "because he said, 'Nice to meet you, Dan.' I've always wanted a nickname. Maybe I'll just go with 'Dan' for now."

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