By Kyle Shohara
There are going to be times during a season when a team is on the wrong end of a blowout loss. For the Ducks, that happened on Saturday in a 5-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the finale of a four-game road trip through the Southeast. It was really the only smudge in a 2-2-0 road trip, even though the Ducks lost in Nashville on Tuesday. The performance was there in that one, and they carried it over into a 3-1 victory two nights later in Florida.
So the Ducks got back to work today inside Honda Center, not feeling down or sorry for themselves. Instead, they’re keeping a positive mindset and continuing to build upon their efforts from the road leading into tomorrow night’s game against the Calgary Flames.
“Just because you throw up a stinker doesn’t mean anything,” said Ryan Kesler. “You’re going to play like that more than once over 82 [games]. It’s hard to be good and consistent every night. Every team in the league does that. We’re going to keep staying positive and continue what we built during that road trip.”
The next three weeks are going to be crucial for the Ducks if they want to make up ground in the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings. Tomorrow the Ducks begin a stretch of games where they’ll play seven of eight on home ice. Their lone road game is on Wednesday night in Arizona. Three of the next four and four of the next six are against divisional opponents.
“Every game going forward is big for us, but divisional games, especially, against some good hockey teams that are fighting for a spot in the standings just like we are,” said Cam Fowler. “This is a group that cares a lot in here. The effort is there all the time. You’re going to have games every once and a while where you might not have a whole lot of life and things aren’t going your way. We feel like we’re ready. We have a big homestand where we have the capabilities of jumping up into the standings. It’s certainly important to us and something we’re putting a lot of attention on.”
Tomorrow’s opponent is one that hasn’t step foot inside Honda Center since Game 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round – a game the Ducks won on a Corey Perry overtime goal that sent them to the Western Conference Final.
“Calgary is a team that works hard and has a lot of team speed,” said Fowler. “They can come at you in a lot of different ways. Their defensemen are extremely active offensively. They have some really good guys on the backend playing good hockey. We have to check properly and make sure we’re prepared in our own end.”
As of today, the Ducks (7-10-4, 18 pts) hold a one-point edge on the Flames (8-12-1, 17 pts) in the division after 21 games. Arizona (10-9-1, 21 pts) currently sits three points up on Anaheim with a game in hand.
“Calgary is going to want to beat us and jump up into the division, Arizona is the same way, and we have a pretty good rivalry against Chicago,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “All of those games are going to be important. It’s cliché, but I don’t want to look at Arizona today. I’m going to be looking at Calgary all day.
“Divisional games always take on a bigger meaning.”
After missing Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury, defenseman Hampus Lindholm skated the entire duration of practice. Lindholm suffered the injury early in Anaheim’s victory at Florida on Thursday. The 21-year-old has appeared in 20 of 21 games this season, earning two goals and six points, and ranks third in average time on ice (22:12). Boudreau says he’ll still have to speak with team trainers regarding Lindholm’s status for tomorrow.
Nate Thompson also practiced in full with the club and appears to have taken another step in his rehab from major shoulder surgery in June. Wearing an orange jersey, Thompson did extensive work on the penalty kill today, and gave – and received – contact. No exact timetable has been given regarding his return to the lineup.