By Dan Wood
|The Ducks played some pond hockey Wednesday in front of nearly 150 fans from Finland and back home.
Ducks Radio Analyst
HELSINKI – A mental break and some old-time pond hockey were priorities for the Ducks two days ahead of Friday’s NHL regular-season opener against the Buffalo Sabres at Hartwall Areena.
In front of nearly 150 fans from Anaheim and even more from Finland, the Ducks spent Wednesday’s allotted practice time in playground-style.
With players split nearly down the middle into a Canadian side and one from the United States and Europe, Coach Randy Carlyle ordered a two-on-two, full-ice scrimmage that at times evolved into three-on-three and even one-on-one.Watch video from the day
“Being a Canadian, I have to say the Canadians kicked butt again today,” Carlyle said. “The Europeans had all the skill on their side, but the Canadians came through again.”
For something of a rebuttal, we turn to Pennsylvania-born and New Jersey-bred right wing George Parros
“I can see Randy’s smirk on his face when he’s saying that, but the facts don’t lie,” Parros said. “We did lose the game. Tough day for U.S./Europe, but we’ll be back.”
|“With the schedule we’ve been presented, the number of commitments and the people pulling at us in different directions, we felt it was a good day just to have some fun – just kind of like go back to your roots and play a little bit of shinny,” Carlyle said. |
Any hurt feelings aside, there was a method to Carlyle’s madness five days into the club’s NHL Premiere venture to Europe that also features a Saturday game against the New York Rangers in Stockholm.
“With the schedule we’ve been presented, the number of commitments and the people pulling at us in different directions, we felt it was a good day just to have some fun – just kind of like go back to your roots and play a little bit of shinny,” Carlyle said.
Ducks players and coaches also participated in a post-practice, meet-and-greet event with the fans from Anaheim.
On the heels of a 4-3, overtime victory over Finnish power Jokerit the night before, a game in which the Ducks started strong but faded in the second and third periods, yet another structured practice session might have been counterproductive.
“To me, it’s about the pulse of your team and how they feel,” Carlyle said. “I know, not even having to play, that there are some tired bodies. They showed last night. It showed in some of the practices. We’ll always push our players as far as we can, but you can’t push if they don’t have energy.”
Center Andrew Cogliano
, who joined the Ducks in an offseason trade with the Edmonton Oilers, welcomed the respite.
|“It’s been a busy schedule, coming over here,” Cogliano said. “I think we’re all kind of a little bit tired, and we have a lot of things to do. We get a rest day, come back tomorrow and be ready to work.” |
“It’s been a busy schedule, coming over here,” Cogliano said. “I think we’re all kind of a little bit tired, and we have a lot of things to do. Last night, we obviously didn’t play that well. Today was a good step. I think we just kind of relaxed, went and had some fun instead of bearing down, which we will do tomorrow. We get a rest day, come back tomorrow and be ready to work.”
And make no mistake, there are still some things that need attention, details that were certainly apparent when the Ducks blew a 3-1, third-period lead against Jokerit before team captain Ryan Getzlaf
saved the day with a goal 1:13 into overtime.
“Our defensive game can be tuned up,” Carlyle said. “We kind of traded chances for about half the game, and I don’t think we want to do that. We have to play more like we did in the first period – control the puck as much as possible, keep everything to the outside and not give up those odd-man rushes.”
Left wing Matt Beleskey
and defenseman Kurtis Foster, who made their respective preseason debuts Tuesday, are “possibilities” for Friday’s opener, Carlyle said. Beleskey had been limited in training camp after offseason shoulder surgery, while Foster is recovering from a Sept. 20 procedure to have a piece of wire removed from his surgically repaired left leg.