By Kyle Shohara
Positives vibes were reverberating inside the Ducks locker room this morning as players began making their way off the ice at Honda Center.
The game two nights ago was a stark reminder of the importance of being mentally prepared, and yesterday’s practice served as a way to shake bad habits. They’ll be facing a Flyers squad right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the East, currently sitting in seventh in the conference.
Kyle Palmieri had a standout game in Philadelphia back on Oct. 29 when he scored two consecutive (and unanswered) goals in the third period to cap off a furious rally. The Ducks wound up winning that game by a score of 3-2. Palmieri seems to have his biggest games against Eastern Conference teams, but the New Jersey native remained humble when asked about his success.
“Hopefully I keep that trend going,” he said. “But I’ll just do whatever it takes to help my teammates out. It’s going to be a big game for us.”
Palmieri says the Flyers thrive off emotion, so setting the tone early could go a long way in tonight’s game.
“They’re a good team that plays a physical game,” he said. “They play real emotional. We definitely need to have a good first period against them and make sure they know, coming into our building, we’re not going to give anything away.”
Despite Philadelphia’s inconsistent play this season, head coach Bruce Boudreau knows the Flyers have enough talent to make any game dangerous.
“I still think of them as a really good team because they have really good individuals,” he said. “They’ve got the potential, on any night, to be as good as anybody. That’s what I’ve thought of them since I was in Washington.”
TIES TO PHILLY
Patrick Maroon started his professional career in Philadelphia after being selected by the Flyers in the sixth round (161st overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft. The 25-year-old spent parts of four seasons with the Flyers’ farm clubs (Philadelphia Phantoms and Adirondack Phantoms), but never saw NHL action until he was traded to Anaheim (along with David Laliberte) for Danny Syvret and Rob Bordson on Nov. 21, 2010.
Maroon made his NHL debut with Anaheim on Oct. 25, 2011 at Chicago, and has become a regular in the Ducks lineup this season. Maroon was quoted in the preseason as saying he treats every practice like a real game, and that mindset and relentless determination is paying off. Earlier today, Maroon was asked if playing against Philly holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s very special to play against these guys,” he said. “But at the end of the day, they’re the ones that drafted me and started my career. It’s fun to play against these guys because they traded me, but it’s especially fun to play in the National Hockey League. I never imagined I’d be doing it [playing against the Flyers], but I’m here today. I can thank the Anaheim Ducks.”
Yesterday, the Ducks announced a three-year contract extension for defenseman Mark Fistric. The 27-year-old blueliner has appeared in 27 games in his first season with the Ducks, posting five points (1g/4a) with 18 penalty minutes (PIM) and a +8 rating. Signed as a free agent on Aug. 20, 2013, Fistric ranks second on the team in hits (123). The rugged defenseman talked about what it means to be with Anaheim for another three years.
“The contract itself is more than words can say,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for me and my family. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this organization for a few more years to come. I was really excited when Bob [Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray] picked up the phone and reached out to us.
“When we come to the rink, there’s such a good, competitive level in our group with 23 guys coming every day to play their hearts out. When you see the guy next to you battling as hard as he does, it elevates your play. It’s just what makes it so good.”
EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Dustin Penner-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Nick Bonino-Kyle Palmieri
Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Andrew Cogliano
Patrick Maroon-Mathieu Perreault-Teemu Selanne
Cam Fowler-Ben Lovejoy
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Luca Sbisa-Mark Fistric