By Kyle Shohara
Instead of sulking and hanging their heads today, the Ducks used last night’s disappointing 4-3 overtime loss as a reminder of just how important it is to play 60 minutes (or more) of consistent hockey.
Anaheim had the visiting Arizona Coyotes on the ropes early on, and a 2-0 lead was earned on hard work and staying true to the system. But a lackluster second period resulted in three unanswered goals from the Coyotes before the Ducks found a way to tie it late in regulation. Mikkel Boedker’s breakaway goal off a turnover at the opposing blueline ensured the Coyotes of the extra point in overtime.
After a hard 35-minute practice today, Ducks left wing Patrick Maroon reflected on last night’s game and gave his opinion on why it is teams seem to have trouble keeping multi-goal leads.
“You focus on sitting back instead of playing with the lead,” Maroon said. “There’s a difference. Playing with the lead is playing hard every night and making sure they’re not getting their chances. Sitting back, we’re letting them transition their game. They’re coming in full tilt at us and we’re sitting back. We’re not moving our feet and things aren’t going the way we want. If we were going full tilt, all in, keep focusing, that’s how to play a full 60.”
Defenseman Hampus Lindholm adds, “You have to play 60 minutes in this league if you want to win. If you let up for a second, they’re going to get a couple of goals and it’ll be a game again. We have to play our game over 60 instead of 20.”
Areas of emphasis during today’s practice, according to Lindholm, included clean breakouts and faceoffs. A look at last night’s stat sheet isn’t pretty. The Ducks were 39 percent in the dots (21 of 54), yet still rank 12th overall with a 50.3 success rate.
Big picture-wise, the Ducks have earned nine of a possible ten points over the past five games. A win tomorrow would give them 11 of 12.
“That’s not bad, but we still have some cleaning up to do,” Maroon said. “Just need to keep moving forward. We can’t complain. We got a point [last night]. There are some things we need to clean up, but it’s the start of a good week. We can finish this week really good. We just need to focus on tomorrow.”
Some encouraging news out of Ducks practice today was the sight of Rickard Rakell on the ice with his teammates. Rakell has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury suffered in the November 4 game vs. Florida. The 22-year-old left that game having only played 4:30 of ice time.
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says the young centerman will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
“He participated in all of practice except for one or two drills,” said Boudreau. “We skated him hard. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow morning. There’s always a possibility [of him playing tomorrow], but he’s been out, so I’d say he’s questionable.”
Rakell has two goals and four points in 12 games this season.
QUICK THOUGHTS ON TOMORROW
The Ducks face another young, talented “speed team” tomorrow night, but one without its most prized player. The Edmonton Oilers suffered a major blow when Connor McDavid broke his left clavicle last Tuesday and underwent surgery the following day, an injury that has him out “for months,” according to Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli.
Boudreau was asked if he’s disappointed he won’t get the chance to see the 18-year-old wunderkind in action.
“For the game of hockey, I’m sad he’s out,” Boudreau said, with a wry smile. “Great young talents like that don’t come around every day. The game of hockey itself misses him.”
On the team itself, with or without McDavid, Boudreau says several personnel moves – including the hiring of head coach Todd McLellan in May – has given the Oilers a new demeanor.
“They’ve got a different coach and approach to things,” Boudreau said. “They’ve got a different attitude. They definitely have the talent. We know our hands are full because these are teams we’ve beaten in the past. They’re ready to put us down. We better be ready to play.”