After setting foot on Orange County soil following a morning flight from Nashville, the Ducks gathered at Honda Center for a brief team meeting and optional skate. The order of business was strictly preparation for Game 5 against the Predators tomorrow at 3 p.m. Anaheim has managed to erase a 2-0 series deficit with two victories in hostile territory, but the players know their work is far from over.
“Just because we’ve won two games doesn’t mean we’ve won anything,” said Andrew Cogliano, the team’s leading scorer in these playoffs. “We have to keep things rolling. Mentally, guys need to stay sharp. We got ourselves back in the series, and, if anything, we established how we need to play in order to win.”
After dropping Games 1 and 2 by 3-2 scores, the Ducks went to Nashville where they outscored the Predators, 7-1, including a 3-0 victory in Game 3. Every game is its own entity, and concurrently, the biggest game of the series. Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says over the years he’s learned it’s imperative to focus solely on the game at hand.
“I’ve been involved in series when we’ve been down 3-1 and come back to win it in seven, and I’ve been the other way, too,” he said. “To me, if you focus anything beyond tomorrow, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.”
Now it’s time for Anaheim to use home ice to its advantage – something neither club has been able to do in this series, for whatever reason. Boudreau says it could be because the players are getting too ramped up because of the home crowd, but went on to say he really has no answer to the phenomenon.
If the Ducks are to advance past this round, they’ll have no choice but to win at least one on home ice, with two of the three remaining games taking place at Honda Center.
“We got our home ice back,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “That’s what we fought all year to have. We responded the way we wanted to [in Games 3 and 4]. We went up there and got things done. When you lose two in your own building, we had to take a look at what we were – and weren’t – doing and go from there.”
Needless to say, going back to Nashville for Game 6 with a 3-2 series advantage is a lot more favorable than being on the brink of elimination. So tomorrow night, the Ducks will look to do what no team has done through the first four games of the series, and that’s winning on home ice.
“There’s not much we need to think about other than getting ready to play tomorrow,” said Cogliano. “It’s the biggest game of the series. They’re going to want to establish their road game like we did in their building.”