By Kyle Shohara
With New Kids on the Block taking over Honda Center tonight, the Ducks shifted operations a few miles down the road at The Rinks – Anaheim ICE. It was a business-like practice today as the squad gets ready for Game 2 vs. Calgary tomorrow night.
One thing is for certain: the Ducks executed their game play to a T in Game 1. They physically dominated the much smaller Flames and hemmed them in their zone with regularity. When asked if he thinks Calgary changes its approach tomorrow, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says it wouldn’t surprise him.
“[Flames coach] Bob Hartley is an extremely smart guy, and he’s won a Stanley Cup,” said Boudreau. “I can probably think there are a couple of tricks up his sleeve. I don’t know what they are, obviously, but I bet there are a couple of tricks up his sleeves.” Anaheim’s ability to adapt to any style of play has been a work in progress, especially when it comes to teams with speed. “We didn’t handle the speed game too well this year, so we had to learn,” Boudreau said. “You look at the teams that beat us on a regular basis during the course of the year, and they’re usually really fast. We’ve had to learn a lot from our mistakes. It’s not something that has come easy.”
Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin says the team’s ability to dictate the play thus far in the postseason is a product of experience and flat out determination – the experience being two heartbreaking Game 7 losses at home in back-to-back playoffs. “Losing to Detroit in Game 7 two years ago…those are tough losses to have,” says Beauchemin, also referring to last year’s Game 7 defeat to the rival Kings. “It builds your mental toughness and your character. We all know it’s not easy, and it gets harder as you go on, but we try to dictate our play mostly by our physical game. That’s when we’re at our best.”
The Ducks went toe-to-toe with the burly Winnipeg Jets and swept them in four games. And although they’re facing a team noted more for their speed than brawn, it doesn’t take away from their game plan. “In our room, it’s all about us,” said Beauchemin. “We talk about what the other team is doing, but as long as we do what we have to do, our chances to win are much better. When we follow our game plan, play a physical game and grind other teams down in the offensive zone, that’s when we’re at our best.”
The Ducks never gave the Jets hope in the first round, and Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri says the killer instinct has carried over into this series, despite it only being a game old. “We never want to give teams more hope than those last couple of games,” Palmieri said. “Obviously, with that other night against Calgary, we know they’re a good team and we had a lot of tough games against them in the regular season. They didn’t have their best, but we know they’ll have their best tomorrow night.”
“We just need to play Ducks hockey,” said Patrick Maroon. “That’s getting pucks in and going to work. We need to play between the whistles and know who’s on the ice.”LINE COMBINATIONS
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano/Tomas Fleischmann-Rickard Rakell-Kyle Palmieri
Emerson Etem/Jiri Sekac-Nate Thompson-Tim Jackman
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami Vatanen