By Kyle Shohara
Another noon practice has come and gone as the Ducks adjust to the early start time for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. And after sitting out the last two practices, Ducks winger Corey Perry re-joined the team for an up-tempo 50-minute practice at THE RINKS – Anaheim ICE.
Perry skated with his familiar linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon, and after practice said he’s improving with every passing day.
“I’m excited, and everything went well,” he said. “It was great to get on the ice again.”
Looking back on the injury and his return to the ice minutes later during Anaheim’s Game 5 victory vs. Calgary last Sunday, Perry says he thinks he was feeding off adrenaline. “The next couple of days, it did what it did, but everything is fine,” he said. “We’re moving on, and I’ll be ready. Every day is getting better.”
That’s welcome news for Ducks fans, who took a collective gasp when the soon-to-be 30-year-old [Perry’s birthday is tomorrow] fell to the ice in distress. Perry has been Anaheim’s most dangerous offensive player in these playoffs, and currently paces the NHL in postseason scoring.
A sweep over the Winnipeg Jets and a five-game triumph over the Flames have given the Ducks plenty of time to rest and heal as they go through another extended stretch between series. In fact, Anaheim had four days between their regular season finale and Game 1 of the First Round, seven full days before Game 1 of the Second Round, and now six days until they open the Western Conference Final Sunday at Honda Center.
“It’s been good,” Getzlaf said of the extended breaks. “We worked hard during the year and during the playoffs to be able to be ready. Sweeping the first round gave us a little rest. This week we’ve been able to do the same thing. It’s nice to have that time.”
But mixed in between these series have been intense, almost training camp-type practices that sometimes include ice resurfacing between sessions. That’s all part of preparation, Maroon says.
“Like I’ve been saying the past two series, you have to set yourself up for every game,” said the heavily bearded Maroon. “Preparing ourselves is the most important thing, and that’s by working hard, being structured, making passes on the tape, battling and knowing we’re doing the right things out there. We’re setting ourselves up for Game 1.”
The Blackhawks are loaded with All-Star caliber talent, but the Ducks will continue to focus on themselves as Sunday draw near. “It’s all in our control now,” said Maroon. “We’re in the Conference Finals for a reason. It’s not what they do, it’s what we do. It’s about what the Ducks bring to the table. It all comes down to us between the ears.”LINE COMBINATIONS
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano-Nate Thompson-Kyle Palmieri
Emerson Etem-Rickard Rakell-Jiri Sekac
Tomas Fleischmann-Chris Wagner-Tim Jackman
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami Vatanen
James Wisniewski-Korbinian Holzer