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From Boston - Ducks Focused on Starts

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Dan Wood

Ducks Radio Analyst

BOSTON – The first order of business will be the first order of business Monday night when the Ducks take on the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Opening-period woes have marked a disturbing pattern during Anaheim’s five-game, Eastern road swing that will wind up with a set of back-to-back games that includes a Tuesday night date at Buffalo.

The Ducks bounced back after being outscored 1-0 and outshot 17-7 in the first period Wednesday at Washington, eventually beating the Capitals 2-1 in overtime. The next night, three New York Islanders goals in a span of 1:39 late in the first period doomed the Ducks to a 3-2 defeat.

Ryan Getzlaf staked the Ducks to an early lead Saturday night at Carolina, but the Hurricanes responded with two first-period, power-play goals by Eric Staal and went on to hand Anaheim a second consecutive loss, 4-2.

“If you do a capsule of the road trip so far, the first periods have been our question mark in all three games,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Sunday. “So that, first and foremost, has to be rectified in our start against Boston. We have to be prepared to play to a very high level right off the bat. We’ve stressed that. We’ve talked about it. We’ve showed them some of the things that we felt are necessary for us to change.”

The Ducks practiced Sunday at Agganis Arena on the Boston University campus. With the notable exception of rookie center Nick Bonino, who was excited to return to the site of his outstanding collegiate career that included winning the 2009 NCAA championship, most of the Ducks might have preferred to be elsewhere.

“Today is a day that I don’t know if they really felt like coming to practice, but to me, it wasn’t even a remote thought that we could take today off,” Carlyle said. “After our performance in the first periods of the last three games, we’re going to see more ice time. If we can’t rely on individuals to raise their level, then we have to go to different methods.”

While the Ducks have played 36 games, more than every other team in the NHL and at least two more than everyone else in the Western Conference, slow starts in games should not necessarily follow.

“I think it is more mental than it is physical,” Carlyle said. “There are certain games that players feel better than they did in one or the other, but the mental part of it is the most suspect in our situation. If you want to say you’re tired, you’re going to be tired. If you can believe that you’re going to get over the hump, that you’re going to get through it, you’ll get through it.

“We know we’ve played lots of hockey, but that’s not an excuse. Everybody plays lots of hockey. The challenges that we’ve had with our schedule are different than other teams. What do you do? That’s the schedule you’ve got. You look at it – you play it. Everybody plays 82 games. Everybody’s not happy with certain parts of their schedule. We’d never use that as a crutch.”

Carlyle and his assistant coaches, Dave Farrish and Mike Foligno, will no doubt make it a point of emphasis to seek a strong start against Boston.

“For sure,” Carlyle said. “It has been in these games, but we haven’t been able to do it. It’s lack of structure. You can see that we’re waiting, or we’re tentative, or we have a wrong assignment. The wrong player goes first on the forecheck, where another player is designed to go there. That’s when you see that your mental aspect of it is out of whack.

“Believe me, it’s not consciously they don’t want to do it. I think it’s a lack of structure and a lack of focus that causes us to have to work extra hard.”
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