|"When that puck drops, we have to be ready to go," Marchant said. "That is something we need to figure out and figure out quickly." |
Recovering from an injury to his left side he suffered Sunday, Todd Marchant participated in practice at Honda Center on Tuesday, one of the many Ducks eager to help the team reverse its trend of sluggish starts.
The veteran forward, who was slammed into the boards at Madison Square Garden by Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi just two days ago, said he’s seen this problem creep up on the team in the past and there is only one way to start eliminating it.
“When that puck drops, we have to be ready to go,” Marchant said after practice today, remarking on how the team has yet to score a first period goal. “That is something that we need to figure out and figure out quickly. Let’s get a goal in the first period or the first goal in the game. Let’s get the first hit, draw the first penalty and win the first faceoff. If your first on the puck and you’re doing things first, chances are the other team is going to be trying to catch up to you. Little things like that can make a difference in the hockey game.”
Anaheim has been the one in the backseat after one period through five games. They have been outshot 68-33 and outscored 5-0 in the first 20 minutes. It is a tendency the entire team is locked in on trying to reverse beginning tomorrow night against the Wild.
“I don’t know if it’s a focus thing or something about not being ready,” said Ryan Whitney, who is tied for second on the team with four points. “We have to start having better first periods. You really get behind the eight ball there. It’s forced us to come back in a couple of games. We have to be more prepared mentally.”
Statistically, the Ducks’ best period has been the second, where despite still being outshot 56-43, they are outscoring opponents 6-2. One of their best 20 minutes thus far was the second in Minnesota, where Anaheim tallied three goals (all from newcomers – Saku Koivu
, Evgeny Artyukhin and Joffrey Lupul).
|"We have to start having better first periods," Whitney said. "You really get behind the eight ball there. It's forced us to come back in a couple of games. We have to be more prepared mentally." |
It appeared that effort would lead to the first victory of the season for the Ducks, but they allowed the Wild to score three times in the third period and once more in overtime, delaying that first win until their next game, in Boston. That tough loss one week ago, is still fresh in the team’s mind.
“It should have been a 3-1 trip,” Whitney said. “We blew that game in Minnesota, so we have some payback for them. We have to play well tomorrow. Overall, I think it was a good trip with a bad last game and a great 40 minutes in Minnesota. It’s just about getting going now. Now that we’re at home, it’s important to start getting points.”
The Ducks now play six consecutive games in their home building, and 16 of the next 21 through Dec. 1. An important stretch for the Ducks, they will have to begin it without the help of defenseman James Wisniewski. The 25-year-old suffered a sprain shoulder in the third period of a 3-2 shootout victory at Philadelphia. His status is currently week-to-week.
“I think he’s showing recovery that has been encouraging and will skate probably toward the end of the week,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “We’ll make a decision as we go forward. Once he gets back on the ice, it will become a day-to-day thing.”
Prior to the injury, Wisniewski was having a nice start to his first full season with the Ducks. Seeing ample playing time (third on the team with an average time on ice of 25:15), he currently leads the team with four assists and a plus-four rating.
|"I want to stick this time," Mikkelson said. "I knew I was going down and tried to make the best of it. I tried to be productive in my time there for when the opportunity game. It happened pretty quickly." |
“It’s tough to lose a guy who plays a lot and is playing well,” Whitney said. “We have to have guys step up in his absence. He plays the power play as well. He plays key minutes, plays solid defense and offense.”
With his absence, the team has brought back Brendan Mikkelson to the roster. The 22-year-old was lauded for his performance at training camp by the coaching staff before being the final roster cut prior to opening night. He played 18:14 in his first game with the Ducks against the Rangers, mostly as Whitney’s defensive partner.
“I want to stick this time,” said Mikkelson, who had one assist in two games with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL before returning. “I had done some positive things and improved on some areas of my game that needed work. I tried to look at those positives and use them to help my confidence going forward. I knew I was going down and tried to make the best of it. I tried to be productive in my time there for when the opportunity came. It happened pretty quickly.”
Watching Marchant gingerly skate off the ice against the Rangers, it was unclear if the Ducks would start this homestand with two key players on the mend. But the 36-year-old should be ready to play again on the third line against the Wild.
“I felt like my entire body was somewhere else for awhile,” Marchant said. “But I feel pretty good today, better than yesterday. Nothing is broke. That is always a good thing.”
Marchant also reflected on the road swing, saying, “It was not as successful as we would have wanted it to be, but we went into some pretty tough buildings and played good hockey. We have to take the positives from that and move forward here for an extended homestand.”