After three days off following their four-game sweep over the Calgary Flames, the Ducks got back to work this morning at Honda Center knowing their Second Round opponent will be another Alberta team - the Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton's 3-1 win last night in Game 6 at San Jose gave the club its first playoff series victory since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2006 (also the last time they made the postseason). This series will begin sometime this week with Games 1 and 2 at Honda Center.
Following practice, a few of the Ducks shared their initial thoughts on the Oilers.
"Great team," said Ryan Getzlaf. "Being in the playoffs is one thing, but getting through the first round is another. We're excited about the opportunity." Getzlaf, who co-led the Ducks in scoring through the first round of the playoffs with five points (3g/2a) in four games, earned seven points (1g/6a) in five games against Edmonton during the regular season.
Kevin Bieksa says he caught some of the Oilers-Sharks series on TV and was impressed with what he saw. "They looked really good at times," he said. "They play a similar style to us. They're big and strong, they're fast and they have good defensemen. Goaltender has been solid. It'll be a good challenge for us."
Bieksa says the break came at a good time for the Ducks, who happened to benefit from their mandated bye week in early March. "It allows you to physically heal some wounds and mentally get away from the game for a couple days to refresh," said Bieksa, no stranger to the rigors of postseason hockey. "You go through a series and there are a lot of ups and downs. A lot of emotional times. It wears on you after a while. To get this little refresher, later on in the series it should pay off for us."
Bieksa said today - the first day back from the break - is just one step in the process as they build toward Game 1. They finished off practice with a conditioning skate to get the legs - and lungs - back up to speed. The Ducks will get right back at it tomorrow morning at Honda Center.
Fowler Takes Another Step in Recovery
Taking part in the full practice today was defenseman Cam Fowler, who has progressed rapidly since suffering a lower-body injury on April 4 against the Calgary Flames. Fowler began skating on his own while the series was in Calgary for Games 3 and 4 and resumed skating when the team returned to Anaheim. Today the 25-year-old blueliner took part in the hour-long session with his teammates, a welcome respite from skating by his lonesome.
"Any time you can join the team in practice, it definitely beats skating by yourself," he said. "I'm happy to be progressing in the right direction. It was a good day. It's exciting. I feel like everything is responding the way it should. Didn't have any tweaks."
Fowler says his next step will likely involve some form of physical contact on the ice. No specific return date has been set, but head coach Randy Carlyle said he expects Fowler to be available for this series.
Video: Cam Fowler talks after practice at Honda Center
Not on the ice today were center Ryan Kesler and defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen. All three were given maintenance days, according to Carlyle. Kesler and Lindholm skated in all four games against Calgary, but Vatanen has yet to play since suffering an upper-body injury in Game 1.
Video: The Ducks return to the ice after a short break