Winners of three straight for the first time since mid-October, the Ducks are now faced with the task of keeping that momentum going while on the road.
|“The biggest thing is to establish an identity on the road,” Ryan said. "No excuses at this point. It’s January. You have to make a push at some point, and now is the time to go do it on the road.” |
Playing away from Honda Center has been among the most challenging aspects of Anaheim’s 2011-12 campaign. Currently at the midpoint of the schedule, the club owns a 3-10-5 road mark (last in the NHL). Traveling to 23 of the final 41 games, the Ducks will have to vastly change those fortunes in order to climb back into postseason contention. They want that to begin tomorrow night at Calgary, the first date in a three-game road swing through Western Canada.
“The biggest thing is to establish an identity on the road,” Bobby Ryan
said. “We haven’t done that too much this year. We’ve let games get away from us and dropped games we would have liked to have. No excuses at this point. It’s January. You have to make a push at some point, and now is the time to go do it on the road.”
Boudreau, Hagman and Ryan Video
Ideally, the Ducks would like to pick up right where they left off when they hit the ice at Scotiabank Saddledome tomorrow night. The team’s offense has been ignited during the three-game winning streak, scoring 16 goals during that span and two consecutive hat tricks (Corey Perry
and Saku Koivu
). An offense that once sat in the cellar of the league in goal-scoring has climbed up to the 22nd position (2.51 per game).
“When you score that many goals, then good things usually are going to happen to you,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You ride the wave and you see where it takes you. We’ve been successful a little bit in the last three games. I was saying to somebody this morning, ‘I think we have the worst road record in the league.’ It’s about time we started to get that a little bit better. It’s embarrassing, only three wins at the halfway mark on the road.”
Like Anaheim, the Flames are a superior team when playing in their own building. They have won seven in a row at home and earned points in 10 straight games there. Overall, they are 12-5-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome, compared to 8-14-3 while on the road. The Ducks have had some success there in the past, including two wins last season.
“I know they are completely different team at home than they are on the road,” Boudreau said. “They are very strong. They are a meat and potatoes team, bring your hardhat to work and go at it. That is the way they play. They have a lot of hungry fans there every night, making a lot of noise. They scored four last night in the first period and I think they’ll try to do the same tomorrow.”
|“For me, I try to work hard, get the puck and create chances out of that,' Hagman said. "Saku is really good with the puck, poised with it. Teemu, well, he has scored 651 goals. It’s been fun to play for sure.” |
The game will mark the return of Niklas Hagman
to Calgary, his first game against his former team since the Ducks claimed him off re-entry waivers on Nov. 14. The left winger had been with the Flames since 2010, playing in a total of 106 games for the club. “I don’t think it’s going to be anything special,” Hagman said. “I wasn’t there for that long of a time. Things didn’t go that well for me over there. I would like to have a good and definitely would want a win.”
The 32-year-old has played well since coming to Anaheim, especially during the three-game winning streak. In the first of those wins on January 6 against the Islanders, he was grouped with Teemu Selanne
and Saku Koivu
for the first time to create an all-Finnish second forward line. The trio has flourished, combing for seven goals, 15 points and a plus-14 rating during the three victories.
“You can’t complain playing with guys like that,” said Hagman, who accounted for three assists and a plus-five in those three-game totals. “This is the first time I have actually played with them. I have been on the same team with them at the Olympics and World Championships, but I have never played on the same line with them.
“For me, I try to work hard, get the puck and create chances out of that. Saku is really good with the puck, poised with it. Teemu, well, he has scored 651 goals. It’s been fun to play for sure.”
Said Boudreau of Hagman and the second unit, “He has been a nice fit. He chips in with a goal or a point every now and again. There is good chemistry with those guys right now. It’s one of those things that I want to leave alone.”Notes
After an optional team practice at Honda Center this morning, the Ducks hit the airport for a flight to Calgary. Both Jonas Hiller
(lower body injury) and George Parros
(strained groin) were aboard the plane with the rest of the Ducks and still considered day-to-day by Boudreau.
“We’ll see how it works out tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll talk to both of them and see how they feel. We’ll probably make decision tomorrow after the pre-game skate.”