|More of this tonight, please.
The Ducks have been on a a torrid streak in which they won five out of six, outscored teams 25-11 and had the second-most goals in the month of January in the entire NHL.
And yet their coach goes into a game tonight with Phoenix using the word "nervous."
"I told them I'm nervous about this game," said a typically candid Bruce Boudreau, clad in a casual hoody and jeans following the morning skate."We have no right to ever be complacent in the position we're in, but it can always set in to a team that's had a two-week run that's been pretty good. They know they can bury us when they play us twice in the next five games. They can do some damage to our hopes." Ryan Getzlaf
told reporters yesterday that the mood of the team is noticeably better, but they can't stop pushing. “It’s been a long road," he said. "It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to have a little fun. Losing is not fun. But we’re not taking anything for granted. We need to get back on the ice and get back to work.”
Still, something all the Ducks will tell you they have going for them is confidence, something that has become a sports cliche, but a cliche for a reason: It's an invaluable asset to a winning team. “It’s amazing how easy it looks when you believe in what you’re doing," Teemu Selanne
said. "Everyone is confident now; you can feel it inside the locker room.”
"We go out there now and we know we can beat (anyone)," said Jonas Hiller
. "You can feel it out there. Something has changed."
Hiller has been one of the big reasons for that self-assuredness, having unquestionably his best run of the season with a 1.38 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage in his last four starts. He's been so good, in fact, his coach was claiming he got robbed of one of the NHL's Three Stars of the Week that were announced Monday, despite a stretch in which he went 6 1/2 periods of regulation without giving up a goal.
“When you're out West, you don't get the love you do when you're out East,” Boudreau said yesterday, despite the fact he's only been a West Coast coach for a couple months now. “There's no way that Hiller shouldn't have been one of the three stars of the week. It's amazing how the Ducks don't get the love from those guys."
Hiller will be back in there tonight against a Coyotes team that is 11th in the West after a rough start to 2012. Their 6-1 win at home Monday night snapped a stretch in which they had dropped five of six to January. They are also 0-2-3 in their last five on the road.
Goalie Mike Smith was the first off the ice at warmups this morning, and figures to get the start for Phoenix. Smith has been snakebit lately, giving up just six goals in his last five starts, but only having won two of those as Phoenix has struggled to fill the other net. That wasn't a problem Monday, however, as Smith had 38 saves in a 6-1 rout of Colorado at home.
This isn't much, but it's something: If the Ducks can get two points tonight, they crawl out of the 14th spot in the West for the first time in a couple of months, and will be 12 short of that coveted eighth spot with 37 games to go.
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Further proof that Ducks fans aren't limited to Orange County, I got an email this morning from a fan named Virginia that read: Ducks pride in Boise. Getting pumped up for the game tonight!.
Attached was the photo below (if this doesn't scream Anaheim vs. Phoenix, I don't know what does):