There was a different feeling around fitness testing and photo day for the Ducks this morning at Honda Center, as a sense of stability seemed to fill the air.
|"I’m just going to come into this camp, with no different mindset than the past few years," Ryan said. "My spot is here. I’ll continue to work hard every day. Now that I’m not focusing on something new, I can focus on the little things I need to do to become a better left winger for Getz and Pears.” |
Much of last season’s roster, which captured the fourth seed in the Western Conference, returns intact. Nineteen players in all from that team are back and revived for another shot at the Stanley Cup.
“We are refreshing our group, not having to start from scratch and rebuild,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “There are areas in which our hockey club can improve on, yet maintaining that we did make some strides last year.”
At that time last year, Anaheim had far more question marks surrounding itself. Most of the defense was made up of new faces, Bobby Ryan
was trying his hand at a new position and the club was coming off its first non-playoff campaign since 2003-04.
Those uncertainties have all since been erased in the wake of the Ducks’ return to the playoffs. Six of the team’s seven blueliners return, including Cam Fowler
and Luca Sbisa
, two younger players who gained invaluable experience in the last year. Ryan, who was being looked at as a possible center, is firmly entrenched on the left side of the team’s top line alongside Corey Perry
and Ryan Getzlaf
“There were some more openings last year,” Ryan said. “The roster is a little more set. I’m just going to come into this camp, with no different mindset than the past few years. My spot is here. I’ll continue to work hard every day. Now that I’m not focusing on something new, I can focus on the little things I need to do to become a better left winger for Getz and Pears.”
Nobody is hoping for anything different from Perry, the NHL’s reigning MVP, who will have a bigger spotlight on his him courtesy of that hardware. For his part, the right winger did not let the accolades affect his approach for the new season. Everything was business as usual.
“It was the same summer that I would normally have,” said Perry, who also won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2010-11 with a league-best 50 goals. “I didn’t change anything up. The calendar flips in our mind to a new year. You have to go out and prove yourself all over again. Obviously, people are going to be judging on how I start the season. But you can’t put extra pressure on yourself.”
Each passing season since Perry’s debut in 2005-06, the Ducks have seen an uptick in his production. He has gone from 25 points as a rookie to 98 last season. While the challenge to exceed that number has grown, he has every intention of keeping with that trend. The coaching staff is also confident in that fact.
|“That is the point to this season,” Getzlaf said. “We want to kick things off the right way. We did a lot at the end of last year, so we’ve proven that we can play that way. We have to get our minds focused and ready to go right off the hop. We’ve done it in years past and we know how to do. It’s just a matter of getting out there and doing it.” |
“Our message (to him) has been ‘Stay hungry’,” Carlyle said. “You were the MVP of the league. The things that you accomplished last year were great, but this is a new start and another year. We’re going to put him in situation that he has earned. We think both him and Ryan Getzlaf
have the ability to take the next step. You include Bobby Ryan
in that. Those three young players have a chance to be one of the most dominant lines in the league, if not the most dominant line in the league.”
With Teemu Selanne
having yesterday announced his triumphant return for one more season, Anaheim’s strong second line (one that combined for 10 goals and 18 points in six playoff games) of Selanne, Saku Koivu
and Jason Blake
will also most likely stick together on the ice and defy their collective ages.
The most heated competition at training camp, which begins tomorrow morning at Honda Center, appears to be for a couple of spots on the third and fourth forward lines. With a lot less unknowns this time around, the Ducks all appear ready to focus on a successful start to their season. That has been an elusive task since the club won the Stanley Cup in 2007.
“That is the point to this season,” Getzlaf said. “We want to kick things off the right way. We did a lot at the end of last year, so we’ve proven that we can play that way. We have to get our minds focused and ready to go right off the hop. We’ve done it in years past and we know how to do. It’s just a matter of getting out there and doing it.”