Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to find success.
Down 0-2 in this Second Round series against the Edmonton Oilers, the Ducks don't have much room for error anymore. They have to find a way to win four of the remaining five games in this series if they hope to advance to the Western Conference Final, three of which away from home. The road is long and it is difficult, and they're about to entire a hostile atmosphere inside Rogers Place beginning tomorrow in Game 3, but it's not doom and gloom for these Ducks.
Before they boarded their plane bound for Edmonton, the team gathered at Honda Center to share their thoughts on the challenge ahead.
"We have a little adversity here," defenseman Josh Manson told reporters today. "It's going to test our character. That's why you want to start a series at home. You want to take care of home ice. Now it's even more important to go in there and steal one, at least. It's going to be a tough test, but we're up for it. We know we'll have to bring our best here."
Battle tested and faced with adversity throughout the regular season, Manson says there is no quit in this team. "We never lose confidence in this group. We know we can find ways to win hockey games. It's a seven-game series. It's not two games and it's over. We know we have the ability in the room to find ways to win a game, and that's the way we're looking at it."
"Puck luck," or a lack thereof, has been evident through the first two games of the series. Just last night, defenseman Cam Fowler hit the post on two separate occasions, the first one inching agonizingly close to the stripe only to hit the bottom portion of the right post. It would have tied the game in the third period, but hockey can be an unforgiving sport at the worst possible time.
"You always look at the bounces," said head coach Randy Carlyle. "We had lots of bounces go our way in the Calgary series. The power-play goal they scored last night went off a skate. That is the kind of stuff that is happening to us. Could we have been in better position? Yes. We could've cleared the puck down the ice. We felt, at the top, there was a pick pulled off and the puck changes sides. In reality, we didn't score enough goals or get enough traffic to the net. We had our fair share of chances. There is still more for us to give."
Former Ducks Stanley Cup champion Teemu Selanne used to be fond of saying goal scoring is like a ketchup bottle. You just need to get one to get it flowing. While his analogy was meant more for an individual, than, say, a team, the same can be applied to the Ducks. Although they haven't been shutout in either game (they scored three times in Game 1 and once last night - on 40 shots), they've been oh-so-close with a number of chances in each game. Corey Perry, who could use a bit of puck luck right about now, says the dam is about to break.
"If we continue to do the right things, stay with what we implemented here, play the same way we did last night, we're going to get our chances," he told reporters. "We're getting chances. It's going to crack. You have to get in [Talbot's] eyes. What he can't see he can't stop. That's the name of the game these days. Someone has to get in front and create havoc."
Ducks forward Patrick Eaves adds, "If we just keep getting the pucks and bodies around the net, we'll get our bounce. We've hit a bunch of posts here - it seems like we've hit the inside of the post a couple of times, too. They're playing well defensively, their goalie is playing well and we just have to find a way through that.
"We're doing a lot of good things. I think we're playing better this series than we did against Calgary. We need to keep getting better on a nightly basis. We are doing some good things out there, but it's been tight-checking. We just need to keep sticking with it."
Carlyle said Sami Vatanen (upper body) is "inching closer" to returning to the lineup and they'll get another opportunity to evaluate him tomorrow in Edmonton. Vatanen hasn't played since Game 1 against Calgary. Nick Ritchie missed Game 2 last night due to flu-like symptoms that developed suddenly and unexpectedly just prior to warmups. Ritchie appeared fine during the day and even took line rushes, but Carlyle said he had to leave the ice early. Kevin Bieksa (lower body) is "going to be out a while," Carlyle said to reporters, though he said returning later in the series is a "possible option." Bieksa was injured in Game 1 on Wednesday after colliding with teammate Shea Theodore in the second period.