A renewed energy was swirling throughout Ducks practice at Honda Center on Tuesday, thanks to the club’s best stretch of the season to date.
|“Things have obviously changed a little bit,” Ryan said. “The morale is up. It’s easier to come to the rink, focus on things and have fun with the guys. We’ve had a lot of practices this year that weren’t so fun. To be on the other side of things for a little while is a nice reprieve.” |
Anaheim returned home after taking two of three games during a jaunt through Western Canada and extending its standings points streak to a season-best six games. The winning formula has come from a staunch defense and high-octane offense that has outscored opponents 25-11 over the last six games.
“Things have obviously changed a little bit,” said Bobby Ryan
, who has 7 goals and 11 points in his last 10 games. “The morale is up. It’s easier to come to the rink, focus on things and have fun with the guys. We’ve had a lot of practices this year that weren’t so fun. To be on the other side of things for a little while is a nice reprieve.”Post-Practice Video
Another standout for the Ducks as of late has been Jonas Hiller
. Since returning from a lower-body injury at the start of the road trip, the Anaheim goaltender has been a virtual wall. He stopped 72-of-75 shots he faced in Western Canada and earned his 100th career win in a 5-0 shutout of the Oilers on Friday.
“You’re not getting anywhere without goaltending,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “When he’s great, he’s great. He had zero goals against in the one game, zero goals against in regulation in another game, one power play goal and a goal late in the game when our own player runs over a guy in another game.
“When you get goaltending like that, you’re going to win a lot of hockey games. That is the secret to success on any team. You look at any team that is at the top of the standings, their goaltending is great.”
Hiller sees a strong-minded team once again on the ice in the Ducks, one that can compete with anybody in the NHL. Anaheim’s last win came over a Canucks team that is tied for third in the league in points. “It definitely feels like the team has the confidence again,” Hiller said. “We feel we can beat whoever is in the other dressing room. Before, it always seemed like we were questioning ourselves. You can’t just play like that. You have to have that good feeling going out there, no matter what happens.
|"You can feel something changed on the team," Hiller said. "You have to know it happened because we worked for it. A lot of times we got outworked. Now, we’re outworking the opponent. If we don’t that, no matter how much skill you have in the dressing room, it just won’t work.” |
“You can feel it out there, no matter what position you play. You can feel something changed on the team. You have to know it happened because we worked for it. A lot of times we got outworked. Now, we’re outworking the opponent. If we don’t that, no matter how much skill you have in the dressing room, it just won’t work.”
While things are definitely in an upswing, the Ducks fully understand a lot of work still has to be done. The club still occupies 14th place in the Western Conference with a 15-22-7 overall record (37 points), 14 points behind eighth-place Minnesota.
“Winning makes you smile,” Boudreau said. “Nobody likes losing in anything. When you get to have a little bit of success, you come to work happy. It’s just a fact. It’s nice to see them smiling. At the same time, you don’t let the smiles let you be lazy. You have to work twice as hard, just to keep where you want to be.
With 38 games left in the 2011-12 regular season schedule, the Ducks can make for another interesting final few months if they continue to build on this positive play.
“Every day to us is a playoff game,” Boudreau said. “We want to hopefully get back into the race. Our sense of urgency is three weeks ago. We have no choice, but to play the same way that we played in Vancouver. It’s a tough way, but we built our own situation so we have to do this.”