By Kyle Shohara
Though a point slipped from their grasp last night in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders, the Ducks aren’t dwelling on what could have been. Lessons were learned from it, and the team showed up to practice this morning with renewed energy and optimism. Perhaps some of it was the result of seeing their captain, Ryan Getzlaf, back on the ice after missing last night’s contest due to flu-like symptoms.
“It was one of those flu bugs that hit overnight and lasted most of yesterday,” said Getzlaf. “I was able to get in a meal late last night and breakfast this morning. I’m feeling a little bit better.”
Getzlaf says he stayed in his bedroom for most of yesterday. “I have kids at home, so I was trying to hide from them to make sure they didn’t get it. I went to the doctor to get an IV so I can be ready for tomorrow.”
“Most of the time, the flu doesn’t knock you out for a week [or more],” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “We’re glad Ryan was able to practice today. Unless something really crazy happens, he should be ready tomorrow.”
As for linemate Corey Perry, who didn’t practice this morning and was a late scratch last night, his status for tomorrow remains to be determined. “The difference was that Ryan had it yesterday morning and Corey didn’t get it until closer to game time,” said Boudreau. “He’s missed two days, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. Knowing Corey, if he’s feeling good, he’s going to want to play. Who am I to sit him out?”
LIGHTING THE LAMP
Ducks forward Matt Beleskey had a breakout 2013-14 season in which he set career highs in goals (9), assists (15), points (24) and plus-minus (+8) in 55 games, and he’s on pace to eclipse those numbers this season if he keeps up his current pace. Beleskey has six goals through 14 games this season and is being used in a more prominent offensive role.
“He’s being put in positions that maybe last year he wasn’t put in,” said Boudreau. “He’s proving he can do it. As long as he keeps shooting, he’s going to keep scoring.” Beleskey’s 41 shots on goal rank second on the club behind Perry’s 42 SOG.
Beleskey used the offseason to recover from injuries that nagged him last season, and instituted a new regime that includes extensive stretching and yoga. But it’s his ability to make the most out of his opportunities that’s giving him the most success.
“It’s the opportunity and having confidence,” said Beleskey. “I’m trying to simplify my game by focusing on hitting the net and getting the shot off quick rather than picking corners. It seems to be working right now.”
His versatility allows Boudreau, who’s notorious for shuffling the deck, to use him on all four lines if necessary. That’s all good for the upbeat 26-year-old from Windsor, Ontario.
“I just want to play as much as I can, and contribute as much as I can,” he said. “Bruce likes to mix up the lines and throw me with different guys. I don’t mind it.”
LOOKING FOR MORE
Dany Heatley made his long-awaited debut in Anaheim’s 1-0 victory at Chicago on October 28 and since then has appeared in two more games, including last night’s OT loss to the Isles. The two-time 50-goal scorer was a healthy scratch twice, and the veteran forward has yet to earn in a point in the games in which he has played. A lower-body injury in the penultimate preseason game sidelined him for the first nine games of the regular season, but Boudreau says it’s time for the 33-year-old Heatley to get on the board.
“Veterans know what they have to do to be ready to play all the time,” said Boudreau. “He had all of training camp until the end of it, and he has worked hard. I don’t believe there’s an easing-in process.”
Heatley is averaging 12:19 of ice time through three games.