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Practice Report: Special Teams a Focal Point as Ducks Prepare for Rangers

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Kyle Shohara

Pictures from Practice

As the Ducks gear up for tomorrow’s game against the defending Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers, a point of emphasis during today’s practice was on special teams.

Though the Ducks have earned a league-best 58 points through 41 games, their power play and penalty kill have been less impressive, as the Ducks are 23rd on the PP (15.4 percent) and 20th (79.4 percent) in PK situations.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau says he hopes repetition breeds success.

“We work on the power play and penalty kill, and watch video on it every day,” he said. “We just hope, by doing all of this stuff, that eventually it’s going to click and we’re going to have some success.”

Sometimes, it’s just plain old bad luck that ultimately results in a goal-less power-play opportunity. Boudreau recalls the team’s second power play during Sunday’s game vs. Nashville. “We were all over them and we hit the post,” he said. “Sometimes you’re holding your stick a little too tight and you’re waiting for a negative thing to happen. We just have to get a little bit of success, and then you’ll find that we’ll take off.”

As for the penalty kill, one of Anaheim’s stalwarts on the PK says the overall percentage can be deceiving. “The PK is funny,” said Andrew Cogliano, who has two shorthanded goal this season. “Everyone likes to look at the percentages, but once you get a couple of goals scored on you, which is going to happen from time to time, it really puts your percentage low, and it’s tough to get that back. We need to focus more on not looking at the overall [rankings], and just getting back to what we were doing because it was helping us win games.”

Much has been made about the gauntlet that teams make, especially those in the Eastern Conference, when they come to California. What was once an in-season vacation has now turned into one of the more challenging road trips of the year, or, as Rangers forward Derick Brassard put it, the hardest road trip of the season.

“Teams are starting to realize how well we’ve been playing,” said Rene Bourque, familiar with the East from his time with the Montreal Canadiens. “The Ducks have been at the top of the standings for most of the first half of the season. We want to stay there, and we have to play well in order to do so.”

Although many of the current Ducks have limited experience playing against the Rangers, Bourque says he was “spoiled” because of his time in Montreal. “It’s always a big game against a big market team. They play hard hockey. There are no easy games. It’ll be a big challenge for us, much like Nashville was.”

“This is a very good team in both the NHL and the East, and we measure ourselves every night,” said Ben Lovejoy, no stranger to the Rangers from his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “We want to be the best team in the league. We want to win every night, and this is a very good test for us.”

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