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Ducks Look to Re-Focus at Home

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com

“I felt with our schedule that is coming, we’re going to play every second day here as we go, that we should try to get on the ice as much as possible to try to improve our overall execution level,” Carlyle said. “That first and foremost was missing from last night (at Pittsburgh). It wasn’t where it needs to be in the last three-four games and that has been frustrating for everybody.”
A disappointing four-game road trip in the books, the Ducks were back at Honda Center for practice on Tuesday afternoon, hoping to unearth a solution to various breakdowns that have left the team puzzled.

With a big seven-game homestand starting Thursday against Tampa Bay, Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle opted to have his team skate rather than take a day off despite getting back into town in the wee hours of the morning.

“I felt with our schedule that is coming, we’re going to play every second day here as we go, that we should try to get on the ice as much as possible to try to improve our overall execution level,” said Carlyle, who noted that his decision was also in part because the team did not practice on Sunday due to one-on-one meetings. “That first and foremost was missing from last night (at Pittsburgh). It wasn’t where it needs to be in the last three-four games and that has been frustrating for everybody.”

A glaring problem that reared its head against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins was turnovers, and in a locker room meeting afterward, the team spoke openly about the need to be safer with the puck.

“Especially in your own end, if you’re going to make those little plays, you can’t turnover pucks right in front of our net,” Joffrey Lupul said. “We’re behind the eight-ball early in some of these games from just small mistakes. Right now, we’re in one of those little funks where it seems every time we make one of those mistakes, it’s in our net.”

“Whatever we’re dealt right now, we have to use to try and be better,” Niedermayer said. “We realized that we were going to be playing some pretty good teams on the road trip. We came up short and made too many mistakes. When you’re playing good teams, you can’t afford to do that. Hopefully, we can have a bit of a string here at home. That would be great.”
Taking pride in their defensive capabilities the past several seasons, the Ducks find themselves in the very unfamiliar position of 27th (tied with Columbus) in the NHL in goals against per game (3.42) and 28th on the penalty kill (74.2 percent).  Scott Niedermayer said the first and simplest fix is to address the turnovers.

“The biggest thing is you look at the giveaways,” the Ducks captain said. “Those should be pretty easy to correct. There are good players in this league that are going to make plays. Things are going to happen even when you’re doing your job, but to give them opportunities is tough.”

Known more for his offensive prowess since debuting in the league in 2005, Corey Perry is also starting to see more time in a defensive role on the penalty kill. The right wing, who said he last played prominently on the PK back in junior hockey, played a season-high 5:26 on the unit last night and assisted on Todd Marchant’s shorthanded goal in the first period.

“For me, it’s a place where you can stay involved in the game and the intensity just rises when you’re on the penalty kill,” Perry said. “Everybody says championship teams start with defense. Good defense leads to good offense. The less time you spend in your zone, you’re going to have a better chance of scoring on the other end.”

On the opposite side of the rink is where Perry has been doing plenty of damage. With that assist to Marchant, the 24-year-old extended his scoring streak to 12 games, a career high and the longest hot stretch by a player in the league so far this season. But individual achievements mean little to him if the team is not playing well as a whole.

“It’s been going all right personally, but that stuff doesn’t matter to me,” Perry said. “I’m not a person that just thinks about that. It’s all about the team. When we’re losing like we are, it doesn’t feel great. I just want to go out and get the two points for a win.”
“It’s been going all right personally, but that stuff doesn’t matter to me,” said Perry, who is tied for third in the league with 24 points and tied for fourth with 13 goals. “I’m not a person that just thinks about that. It’s all about the team. When we’re losing like we are, it doesn’t feel great. I just want to go out and get the two points for a win.”

The Ducks  (6-10-3) will have one more day of practice tomorrow to go over their course of action going forward before a critical homestand begins on Thursday. From there, a game will be played at Honda Center every other day until Dec. 1.

“Whatever we’re dealt right now, we have to use to try and be better,” Niedermayer said. “We realized that we were going to be playing some pretty good teams on the road trip and that it was going to be tough. We came up short and made too many mistakes. When you’re playing good teams, you can’t afford to do that. Hopefully, we can have a bit of a string here at home. That would be great.”

Injury Notes
Center Saku Koivu (groin strain) skated on his own before practice and then skated with the team for close to 15 minutes before leaving the ice. Koivu has been out the last five games.  Center Ryan Carter, who has missed the last three games with a bruised foot, did not skate.
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