By Kyle Shohara
AnaheimDucks.com Photo Gallery
BANFF, Alberta – Before a two-hour bus ride back to Calgary, the Ducks got one last taste of the scenic mountain town of Banff with a hard practice at Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre earlier today. Whereas yesterday was an optional skate and a chance to relax and soak up the scenery, today was a full-on workday as the Ducks prepare for Game 4 tomorrow night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
After suffering their first loss of the postseason, the Ducks stepped onto the ice for practice with new line combinations. Tomas Fleischmann skated with Rickard Rakell and Andrew Cogliano, and rookie Jiri Sekac took rushes with Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman. Fleischmann filled in admirably for Thompson and Chris Wagner in Games 3 and 4 of the first round when both were out with injuries, but the veteran winger hasn’t played since. Sekac is still awaiting his postseason debut.
Though Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told the media not to read too much into the new combinations, the changes were made to remind players that roster spots are not set in stone. Boudreau gave two reasons for the changes today. “One: to bring in some energy with guys who haven’t skated, and two: to send messages," he said. "We’ve good guys not playing right now, so if we’re not playing at the top of our game, we can make changes.”
The hour-long practice session was a typical Boudreau-run skate the day before a game. It was high on intensity and competitiveness, especially in battle drills along the boards and in the corners. “This group needs it a little bit,” Boudreau said. “Sometimes we get complacent, so sometimes they need to be shown some negative things they’re doing on video, and correcting them on the ice.”
“Between rounds, that’s the practice we’ve been having,” said Corey Perry. “It’s worked. Everybody gets into it, and everybody is engaged and battling back and forth. Guys are having fun with it. Hopefully we can use that competitiveness tomorrow night.”
With snowcapped mountains in the background, Perry reflected on the two days in Banff. “It was great,” he said. “It’s one of the nicest spots I’ve seen in the world. It’s beautiful up here. It allowed us to just get away and clear the mind. Yesterday was just about getting away from the game, and today was about work. We did that in practice.”
BACK TO BASICS
The Ducks got away from their trademark physical play in Game 3’s overtime loss on Tuesday, delivering a postseason-low 21 hits against a much smaller and less physical Flames team. Anaheim has recorded 87 hits through three games vs. the Flames. Compare that to the 173 hits they delivered against the beefy Winnipeg Jets in four games, and the numbers aren’t even close. But rugged forward Patrick Maroon says the Ducks will bring their heavy game tomorrow night. “We haven’t been hitting much this series, but for Game 4 we’ll get back to doing what we did in the first series,” he said. “Everyone knows they’re a fast team. We’re not going to go out of our way to hit them because they can fly right past us. We just have to pick our spots to hit, and hopefully break them down.”
“The objective for any road team is to be aggressive, suppress the issue and get on the home team,” said Cogliano. “I don’t think we did that enough. We gave their D an opportunity to move the puck out of the zone quickly. When we were in Anaheim, we pressured them to a point where they couldn’t break out. We took too many penalties. It’s tough to win games like that. Our goal tomorrow is to play more aggressive and play that forechecking style.”FORWARD LINE COMBINATIONS
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Tomas Fleischmann-Rickard Rakell-Andrew Cogliano
Jiri Sekac-Nate Thompson-Tim Jackman
Emerson Etem-Chris Wagner-Kyle Palmieri