Ducks Radio Analyst
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – In the midst of their best stretch of the 2011-12 NHL season, the Ducks will face a stern test Sunday night when they take on the defending Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
Friday night’s impressive 5-0 victory at Edmonton gave the Ducks a 4-0-1 record since Jan. 6, a five-game point streak that is their longest this season.
Even though the club had also played Thursday night in Calgary, dropping a 1-0, overtime decision, Coach Bruce Boudreau took the Ducks to Rogers Arena on Saturday morning. Instead of skating, however, players went through off-ice workouts.
“It’s all different,” Boudreau said, explaining the off-day strategy. “If we’re winning, I want them to come to the rink to stay in that mode – being together and everything. If we weren’t being successful, sometimes stay away from the rink. But when you’re winning, come to the rink, get into the feeling of being in the dressing rooms, around the arenas ’cause it’s a good feeling when you’re winning. You want to continue that.”
The coaching staff also gave the Ducks some video to watch, an exercise that was no doubt more pleasant that at earlier points this season.
Including home victories over the New York Islanders, Columbus and Dallas, the Ducks have outscored their opposition by a combined 21-9 over the past five games.
“Overall, the last two games, the last five games, we’re playing a lot better defensively,” Boudreau said. When you play better defensively, usually your offense picks up. Except for the one game, it has. We’ve averaged over five goals a game in the four wins. It’s hard to understand sometimes that good defense creates good offense, but good offense doesn’t necessarily create good defense. It’s a real important factor, I believe.
“In the end, we can talk for hours, but the goaltending is the key to everything. If you get good goaltending, it makes up for a tremendous amount of mistakes. The goaltending in these last five games has been superb, so our record is 4-0-1.”
The two games in Alberta featured Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller
at his best. After having missed Tuesday’s 5-2, home victory over the Stars because of a lower-body injury, Hiller stopped a combined 51 of 52 shots against the Flames and Oilers. He recorded his second shutout this season and the 13th of his career Friday, registering 33 saves.
Hiller’s top-notch play goes back even farther. He has surrendered only four goals over his past four appearances, recording a .951 save percentage in the process.
“I’m definitely feeling pretty good,” Hiller said Friday. “I think the whole team looks pretty positive, pretty good on the ice, and I feel good. I’ll try to keep my part going as well.”
It’s safe to say that Hiller is playing his best hockey of the season.
“The whole team is playing their best hockey right now, which makes it easier for me to play well,” Hiller said. “We also know we have a little streak going because we were working hard, working harder than before, working more as a unit. We know we have to keep working to keep that good thing going.”