By Kyle Shohara
Due to tonight’s P!nk concert at Honda Center, the Ducks took to the ice a few miles down the road at their practice facility, THE RINKS – Anaheim ICE. If there were any lapses in focus last night, there sure weren’t any this afternoon as the Ducks got back to working on battle drills and eliminating missteps.
“We’ve had some bad habits with our own zone coverage and the battles,” said Teemu Selanne. “We’ve got to fix those before we start getting even worse. It was a good, hard practice. Tomorrow is another challenge.”
The challenge comes in the form of the Philadelphia Flyers, who come to Anaheim fresh off a 5-0 blowout victory at home over the Detroit Red Wings. Much like the Wild, the Flyers are in the hunt for a playoff spot, currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind sixth but also a point ahead of ninth. Though February is not yet upon us, you can expect a hungry, desperate hockey team tomorrow night.
“It’s a team we know that if we’re not at our best, we’re not going to succeed,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “They’re in a real dog-eat-dog situation in the Metropolitan Division. Every point they get is really valuable to them.”
Boudreau had a discussion with his players today about what he calls “the graph.” And as of today, the team’s play is lowering the curve.
“From the Vancouver game to this game, were playing like this,” he said, motioning downward. “When you start losing, it becomes really tough to get out of the bottom, and it usually takes a game or two to start coming up and playing again.
“I show it when I don’t want them to get to the bottom. Maybe you can nip it in the bud before it gets there.”
Boudreau was also asked if it’s easier to overlook or dismiss bad habits because of the team’s consistent success this season.
“It doesn’t become tougher to see the warts, it becomes tougher to accept the warts,” he said. “We were down 2-1 last night going into the third, and we had no right being down 2-1. It should’ve been 5-1 or 6-1.
“We could’ve come back and won that game. Then all of a sudden, you’re happy because you won, but you miss the fact you didn’t play well. Or miss the fact you didn’t play well against LA or St. Louis, but you’re still winning. Sometimes those things are overshadowed by doing the right things.”
NO HALF MEASURES
Boudreau referenced this portion of the season as hockey’s version of baseball’s dog days of summer. Just past halfway but not quite the stretch drive, the Ducks will have to find ways to push themselves to get better.
Selanne says it’s their job to be prepared every night.
“We have a good competition about the lineups,” he said. “It’s a tough time of the year, but we still have enough depth and energy to play well every night. Our job is to be ready.
“Last game, we probably played the worst game of the season. We want to put that behind and start again.”