By Kyle Shohara
After all the hoopla and festivities of Saturday’s 3-0 victory over the LA Kings at Dodger Stadium came and went, the Ducks returned to a familiar place today to prepare for an important stretch of games.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau said today’s theme was about getting his team recharged after two emotional games against the Kings.
“You take the emotion drop-off from the last two games, and today was more like ‘Do we have to work?,’” he said. “Yeah, we have to work. The message was that we knew it was going to be tough. Let’s push yourself today so you’re not lethargic tomorrow.”
The Ducks open a five-game homestand tomorrow night beginning with the Minnesota Wild then play one road game (Feb. 8 at Nashville) before the two-week Olympic break. Boudreau always emphasizes winning the week, which, this week, includes games against the Wild, Philadelphia Flyers (Thursday) and the Dallas Stars (Saturday). With six games remaining before the break, Boudreau says it’s going to be a challenge despite the team’s impressive success at Honda Center.
“It’s really hard to win that many games in a row anyway,” he said. “Now you put them at home and it’s still just as difficult. It’ll really be a good test for our home record for these next five games.”
All healthy players were accounted for at practice except Corey Perry, who had a maintenance day, according to Boudreau. Perry ranks tied for second in the league with 28 goals and fifth in points (57), while his +25 rating also ranks tied for second among all players.
Boudreau said Perry has “all kinds of bumps and bruises,” but is expected to play tomorrow.
Viktor Fasth skated on his own prior to the team’s practice, and afterward gave an update on his recovery.
“It’s been going good,” he said. “I’m following the plan and I’ve been skating with the equipment on for two days. It’s getting better every day. I hope to be at the full practice soon.”
The 31-year-old has been dealing with a lower-body injury that’s kept him out of the lineup for the past 30 games. Fasth says it’s all about patience and taking it one day at a time.
“You want to get back as soon as possible, but you have to listen to your body and see how it responds,” he said. “We’re taking it step-by-step. I’m not taking any shots right now, so it’s more about getting the movements back and seeing how the body responds. So far, so good.”
KEEPING THE EMOTIONS HIGH
Even though the Ducks hold a seven-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks for the top spot in the NHL, they’ll have to fight off an emotional dip after two consecutive games against the Kings.
“It’s just about going back to work,” said defenseman Mark Fistric, who dished out 17 hits in the two games against LA. “We’re back at home, so we’re going to have to restart a streak. It starts tomorrow and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
Nick Bonino says the Ducks can’t afford to take any nights off.
“We just have to realize each game matters right now,” he said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good spot up to this point. [Minnesota] is a team we might meet in the playoffs, so we want to send a message that it’s our home rink.”
Fistric credits a lot of their home success to the fans, who made their presence known at Dodger Stadium. “Our fans have been huge all year long,” he said. “They’re great. They’re loud and very passionate. We feed off of it and we play for them.”
“They came out in force to Dodger Stadium, and we really appreciated that,” said Bonino. “It’s always a little easier playing at home when they’re loud and yelling.”