By Kyle Shohara
It’s a travel day for the Ducks, who begin a daunting five-game road trip through the Central Division beginning Thursday at Nashville. But before they boarded buses bound for the airport, a full practice was held at Honda Center for a team in higher spirits following a feel-good 4-1 victory vs. Minnesota on Sunday.
The win was a step in the right direction for the Ducks, who also make stops in Minnesota (Saturday), Chicago (Oct. 26), Dallas (Oct. 27) and St. Louis (Oct. 29).
“It’s probably one of our tougher trips of the year,” said right wing Jakob Silfverberg. “We’re playing five great teams. At the same time, it’s a great challenge for us. If we come out ahead on this trip, it’s going to bring a lot of confidence to this group.”
Says Silfverberg of facing the Predators, “It’s a great test. They’re a great team, and they showed it last year. They have a better team this year. It’s a fun building to go to. We’re excited for it.”
Veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa says the key to approaching extended road trips is taking things one game at a time – so right now, the focus is solely on Nashville.
“These are five tough buildings to play in,” he said. “The Central Division is one of the tougher divisions every season. You go into the first one and try to take care of business, and then go from there. You don’t want to look too far ahead or it’ll get overwhelming.”
This road trip comes at a good time, Bieksa says, for it gives the team a chance to bond off the ice early in the season.
“It can be underestimated how important it is to spend time with your teammates,” Bieksa said. “To hang out with them and go through tough times, travel with them. At the end of the day, it makes you closer. Closer teams always do better in tough times.”
Clayton Stoner took part in the full practice this morning and is ready to play, according to Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. Stoner has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury.
The same can’t be said for Simon Despres, who “isn’t ready yet,” according to Boudreau. Despres left the game vs. Colorado on Friday at 11:30 of the second period after being on the receiving end of a high hit from Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie, who was subsequently suspended for three games, without pay, for charging and interference.
Despres has appeared in four of the five games this season, going scoreless.
NOTE: It was a “maintenance day” for Ryan Kesler, who did not skate with the team.