By Kyle Shohara
|"It's going to take a full 60 or 65 minute team effort tonight to win this game. They're not going away." -- Sheldon Souray
The Ducks took part in their morning skate just like any other game day, but there seemed to be a little extra jump in their step as they prepared for tonight’s matchup against the NHL-best Chicago Blackhawks.
In fact, the Ducks (21-3-4, 46 points) and Blackhawks (24-2-3, 51 points) matchup features the two teams with the best records ever to meet after playing at least 25 games.
Jonas Hiller was the first goaltender off the ice during this morning's skate, described as “optional” by head coach Bruce Boudreau. Defenseman Bryan Allen wasn’t on the ice, though Boudreau said he is available for tonight’s game.
Teemu Selanne: “It’s going to be good just to see where we are right now. They’re playing great and we’re playing great. That’s a good matchup. It’s going to be exciting. With the way they’ve been playing and the run they’re having, they can’t lose. It was awesome to watch. But you want to beat the best.”
Sheldon Souray: “Chicago is the best team in the league. In order to be the best team we’re going to have to beat the best teams. Tonight is probably our biggest challenge of the season so far. We’ll be ready for it.”
‘WE HAVE THE CONFIDENCE’
Hiller: “We definitely have the confidence this year we can win against anybody. Even though some games we weren’t playing our best, we still found a way. That’s the biggest difference between this year and last year. We have the confidence. That’s really important. Everybody is working hard every time they come to the rink. That’s definitely what helps the team and what makes it strong right now.”
Selanne: “We have a lot of confidence. With the way we’ve played, it’s a good feeling. I don’t think we have to think about it too much as more than just a game. But we want to do things right. There’s still room to improve right now.”
Bruce Boudreau, on advising the team not to get too amped up: “We talk about controlled emotion all the time. It’s one of the reasons why our penalty minutes are down this year. We don’t get the unsportsmanlike calls that we used to get. I think that’s something we’ve addressed.”
ON THE BLACKHAWKS
Boudreau: “It should be a good game. For a midseason game, you get the teams with the best two records. It should be exciting. I know the city of Anaheim is excited about Chicago coming to town. And I know there are a lot of transplanted Chicago people that come to our games all the time. I think there will be a little buzz in the air.
“They’re a tough team to stop because they attack as four, sometime five at a time. They’re relentless in their attack. That’s why they score so many goals. It’s not the usual, ‘You have one third guy high and he’s the backchecker.’ So there are no odd-man rushes with these guys. You have to have five guys ready to go offense and defense at the same time. It makes it very difficult on the team. If you don’t get that, they’re going to have breaks where they have free shots and free looks. And with the talent they have, some of those free shots and free looks you can’t stop them all.”
Souray, on what the team learned from their shootout win in Chicago last month: “We learned they’re beatable. They’re not invincible. We also learned that we probably got a little bit lucky we beat them. They’re a great hockey team. They’re the best team we’ve faced so far this year. It’s going to take a full 60 or 65 minute team effort tonight to win this game. They’re not going away. It’s not going to be an easy game by any stretch. We know we have to play well. We’ll be ready for them.”
Selanne, on Patrick Kane: “It’s amazing to watch him. His skill level and the way he plays, how smart he is. He’s not a big guy, but he’s still so strong on his feet. His imagination to read the game and give those unbelievable passes, you don’t see that very often. The way he can see the game and his linemates, it’s amazing. It’s fun to watch guys who seem to have fun. That’s what this game is all about, and he’s one of those guys. He seems to enjoy this game. All the good things follow that.”
Boudreau, on Kane: “Something has happened where he’s totally changed. Not the way he plays, he’s always been a great player. But the consistency of his game, game in and game out this year has been pretty fun to watch if you’re not a hockey player on another team. Every night he’s coming to play. He’s getting more like Jonathan Toews every day, who comes to play every night. When both of them are coming to play every night, it’s a difficult duo to stop especially when they’re on different lines.”
Selanne – Getzlaf – Ryan
Palmieri – Holland – Etem
Cogliano – Koivu – Winnik
Beleskey – Steckel – Staubitz
Souray – Beauchemin
Lovejoy – Sbisa
Fowler – Lydman