Ducks Radio Analyst
SUNRISE, Fla. – The challenge doesn’t figure to get any easier for the Ducks on the sixth stop of their marathon eight-game road trip.
|“We’ve played some good teams so far on this trip, and we know Florida is a great team,” Brookbank said. “They’re going to be gunning for us. They’re going after first place in their division. Every game this time of year is huge. If we can come out of this somehow with three wins in these last three games, that would be great." |
Not only does Southeast Division-leading Florida await Sunday at the BankAtlantic Center, but the Panthers are likely to be in a sour mood after Friday’s 2-1 loss to rival Washington that pulled the Capitals within two points of first place.
“These guys will be good because they have to win,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday after putting the Ducks through an early afternoon practice. “They’re the first team we’re playing (on the trip), other than Minnesota, that the state of urgency is now.
“For New Jersey, they’re pretty solidly in (a playoff position). For Pittsburgh, they’re pretty solidly in. Detroit is pretty solidly in. Columbus is pretty solidly out, but these guys and Minnesota … The game is going to be a tough, tough game.”
After opening their lengthy trek Feb. 10 with a shootout loss to the Red Wings, the Ducks scored consecutive victories over the Blue Jackets, Wild and Penguins. Then came another shootout defeat, Friday’s 3-2 setback to the Devils.
The Ducks, though, picked up a point in the standings by battling back to erase a 2-0 deficit on Corey Perry
’s 29th goal of the season late in the second period and defenseman Sheldon Brookbank
’s first goal of the year at 17:47 of the third.
With five victories and three extra-time defeats during an eight-game point streak, the Ducks improved to 14-2-4 since Jan. 6. Before Saturday’s play, the Ducks were seven points behind Phoenix and Los Angeles, which were in a virtual tie for the final two Stanley Cup playoff positions in the NHL’s Western Conference.
“We’ve played some good teams so far on this trip, and we know Florida is a great team,” Brookbank said. “They’re going to be gunning for us. They’re going after first place in their division. Every game this time of year is huge. If we can come out of this somehow with three wins in these last three games, that would be great.
“We’re focusing on this game against Florida. If we get that one, hopefully we can just keep it rolling and finish it off.”
If there is a fatigue factor after 10 days away from home, the Ducks are doing their best to block it out.
“It seems like we just go in the hotel and sleep, wake up, eat, practice or play every time,” Brookbank said. “It adds up after a while, but we’re used to it. Most of us have been doing this long enough to get used to this type of trip. We just have to gut it out. This time of year, you have to fight through it because everything is so important.”