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Leafs Blow Into Anaheim

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Matt Vevoda

An unfamiliar foe makes its way to Anaheim Wednesday night, as Toronto comes to Honda Center for the first time since 2003. And the new opposing faces are a welcomed sight for the Ducks.

“It’s just nice to see a different team,” Todd Bertuzzi said. “I think after awhile you get tired of the meetings when you know the opponent each and every time. It refreshes things.”

Rated by Forbes magazine as the most valuable NHL franchise, the Maples Leafs, also an Original Six member of the league, are not your average Ducks opponent. With them comes a large fan base.

“I’m sure you’re going to see more than your ample share of blue and white in the stands because there are lots of transplanted Canadians in California,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “It’s easily the most recognizable hockey franchise. Having played there a number of years ago and with the branding that’s taking place in the game, Toronto is front and center.”

Also with the Maple Leafs comes a heightened media presence back in Canada, where many Ducks grew up and/or still live in the offseason.

“It’s a huge game that will be exposed,” said Carlyle, a Sudbury, Ontario native. “It will be front and center in the media market in Toronto and across the nation.”

Added Bertuzzi, also a Sudbury native, “Obviously growing up and being from around that area, it’s nice to have a chance to get on TV there, so friends can watch.”

The struggling Leafs will have their work cut out for them against a Ducks team that appears to get getting things together. With four straight wins at home to improve their record at Honda Center to 13-6-4, the Ducks have slowly regained their status as one of the toughest teams to play for traveling opponents.

A big reason for the Ducks’ recent success has been the play of their defense, which has limited opponents to 1.25 goals per game in those four games.

“We think we have a pretty intimidating group of defensemen,” Carlyle said. “The addition of Scott Niedermayer allows us to put Pronger and O’Donnell out and then come back with Niedermayer and Beauchemin and then come back with Huskins and Schneider.”

After a blistering second period that featured four goals in an 8:07 span in the second period en route to a 5-2 win over Nashville on Monday, the offense is also starting to come around.

“Hopefully it continues,” Perry said after Monday night’s win. “We needed a game like that to take the monkey off our back.”

Another source of good news on Tuesday was the continued progress of checking line center Samuel Pahlsson. Pahlsson once again took part in practice with the Ducks at Honda Center and reported no setbacks in his comeback from an injured abdomen.

“I’m feeling better and going in the right direction,” Pahlsson said. “I’m skating pretty close to 100 percent. The whole team has been doing a really good job lately, so I like that. I want to get back as soon as you can."

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