In a 180-degree turn of emotions since they last skated at Honda Center, the Ducks returned to the arena Tuesday for practice with a much improved feeling about themselves and their season.
After dropping five of their first six games (three at home) in 2008-09, Anaheim rejuvenated its early season by going undefeated on a four-game road trip that took the team through Eastern Canada before concluding in Columbus on Monday. The eight points accrued in their time away moved them from the cellar in the Western Conference to sixth in the standings.
“It was pretty doom and gloom when we left our building after a decent homestand,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “We just felt that we had to regroup, do our things that we do best, stay with the gameplan and things would turn around.”
The team turned things around in a big way. Along with becoming the third team in the league since 1992-93 to consecutively defeat Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, the Ducks also swept a road trip of four or more games for just the second time in team history (the other coming in November 1993).
“It was a good road trip for us,” said Brendan Morrison of the Ducks, who are now 5-5-0 on the season. “We got ourselves back to .500, which was a huge step.”
A dramatic area of improvement for the Ducks was the production of their top forward line consisting of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Chris Kunitz. Whether it was hitting posts or having pucks just fall off their sticks on scoring chances, the trio sputtered to start the year with a combined two points and a minus-14 rating.
| “I think we just got back to the basics,” Kunitz said. “Maybe we weren’t squeezing our sticks quite as tight or trying to do too much. We just took a step back and did our own jobs. When pucks started coming towards us, we started putting them in.” |
In a reverse of fortunes, each of the their games got rolling on the road as they combined for 17 points and a plus-10 rating. Their turnaround was a big reason for the Ducks’ road success.
“I think we just got back to the basics,” Kunitz said. “Maybe we weren’t squeezing our sticks quite as tight or trying to do too much. We just took a step back and did our own jobs. When pucks started coming towards us, we started putting them in.”
The Ducks will get plenty of opportunities in the next three-plus weeks to transfer those road triumphs to Honda Center, as the team will play the next 10 games in Southern California (all at home except Nov. 4 at Los Angeles).
“We found a way to get our game on track on the road,” Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. “There is still room for some improvement. Right now, we have a long homestand and we have to take advantage of it.” - J.S. Giguere
“We found a way to get our game on track on the road,” Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. “There is still room for some improvement. Right now, we have a long homestand and we have to take advantage of it.”
The first of those games comes tomorrow night when the Ducks renew their intense rivalry with Detroit, the defending Stanley Cup champions who are once again atop the Conference standings with a 7-1-1 record.
“By no means are we out of the woods yet,” Carlyle said. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us. The message today is we earned some self-respect on the road trip, but we play the best team in the league tomorrow night.”