Practice Report (January 31): Ducks Get Ready for Minny
/ Anaheim Ducks
Boudreau on Vatanen: “He’s very skilled. He was the Finnish Elite Defenseman of the Year for the last two years. He’s a real gamer."
By Kyle Shohara
The Ducks closed out the month of January with a high-energy and highly vocal practice at Honda Center, as the team prepared for tomorrow’s matchup against the visiting Minnesota Wild.
It’s a new-look Wild squad, having signed free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to long-term contracts over the summer. Minnesota defeated the previously undefeated Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime last night.
WILD BUNCH Cam Fowler and head coach Bruce Boudreau shared their thoughts on tomorrow’s opponent.
“We just need to be on top of our game. We’ve done it well for parts this season. You look at [our] last game in San Jose. It was a good defensive effort from our group. It’s going to be no different with Minnesota. We’ve got to be ready and we’ve got to try and shut down their big line as much as we can. It’s tough because they’re tough players but I think we’re up for the task.” – Fowler
“They’re obviously a [better team]. That probably gives them more confidence. Their expectations are probably pretty high when they sign guys like [Parise and Suter]. Their first line is bona fide. Suter anchors the defense. They never had a real anchor on their defense; it was more like a committee that I remember in the past. They definitely have an identity now. They beat an undefeated team last night [Chicago] and it’ll be a real test.” – Boudreau
Boudreau, on Parise: “He works so hard. He’s like a Tasmanian devil out there. He’s always moving his legs. He’s always going, and when you get to the shootout, he’s almost unstoppable because he’s got four or five really good moves and you never know which one he’s going to use.”
VATANEN GETTING A LOOK Finnish defenseman Sami Vatanen was recalled on Sunday and was paired with Luca Sbisa during today’s practice. Up until today, he’s been paired with fellow rookie Hampus Lindholm. While he has yet to appear in an NHL game, coach Boudreau shared praise for the 5-10, 180-pound defenseman:
“He’s very skilled. He was the Finnish Elite Defenseman of the Year for the last two years. He’s a real gamer. When I saw him in Norfolk, the one thing that jumped out at me was that his games and practices were totally different. We see guys like that. His practices…he happened to be a little lazy and such. But his games…he competes his rear end off.
“Now, we’ve had him up here for a bit. We want him to do both. Once he starts doing both - and he has recently - his practice habits have been better and he’s ready for a game sometime soon.”
Cam Fowler, on Vatanen: “He’s a promising player with tons of upside. He sees the ice really well, makes good decisions, and he has a bright future ahead of him. It’s always tough transitioning into this league on the defensive side of the puck, battling against stronger, bigger guys, more skilled guys. But that’s something that will come with experience. We’re excited to have him. I think he’s going to be good.” LINE COMBINATIONS Forwards Beleskey – Getzlaf – Perry Selanne – Rakell – Ryan Cogliano – Koivu – Winnik – Staubitz Etem – Bonino – Palmieri – Smith-Pelly