|“We have to be road warriors," said Perry (right). "When we come back, we want to be coming back on the winning side of this road trip. It’s going to be a long 12 days, but there is a lot of hockey in there.” |
When the NHL schedule was released back in mid-July, a six-game road trip for the Ducks in the second half off the season seemed to jump off the page the most. It figured to be a big moment for Anaheim in its 2009-10 campaign.
And now that they have finally departed for the season-long trek, it sure enough has become a pivotal point for the Ducks, who sit just four points out of a playoff spot after last night’s thrilling 5-4 victory over Buffalo at Honda Center.
Once in last place in the Western Conference, Anaheim (23-20-7) has roared back into contention mostly behind eight straight home wins. The club has also been victorious in seven of its last eight overall, which included two big road wins at Nashville and Chicago earlier this month. The Ducks (just 7-12-5 on the road thus far) will look to use that two-game trip as a barometer of how they will need to play in this longer excursion away from Orange County.
“It was a huge road trip for us, those two games,” said Corey Perry
, who is tied for the team lead in points (48) with linemate Ryan Getzlaf
. “We have to be road warriors. When we come back, we want to be coming back on the winning side of this road trip. It’s going to be a long 12 days, but there is a lot of hockey in there.”
Featured in the six games traveling for the Ducks are games against the top Western Conference team (San Jose) and the league’s current best Eastern Conference club (Washington). Surrounding those are games at St. Louis, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Florida. In all, it’s a trek that will span 7,510 miles and 12 days.
|"This is a big one for us," Parros said. "We need to make hay here. There is not much time left in the season and not much room left. We need to claw our way up the standings.” |
“This is a big one for us,” said George Parros
, who was to be removed from injured reserve Wednesday after being out since Dec. 31 with an injured hand. “We need to make hay here. We haven’t been too great on the road. We need to get some much-needed points, so we’re going to look to do that. There is not much time left in the season and not much room left. We need to claw our way up the standings.”
Such a long time away from home can be daunting for a club, but Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is asking his players to just take it one game at a time. Based on what he has seen this group do in the past when faced with a similar situation, he knows a successful journey is within their means.
“This is a long one, but we’re not going to treat it any different than we treat any other one,” Carlyle said. “We should take everything that is presented to us on a day-to-day basis. We’re going to play against San Jose. That is our focus. Historically, this group has been able to step up and meet these challenges.”
The first game of the trip, against the Sharks at HP Pavilion tomorrow night, is arguably the toughest of the six on the road for the Ducks. They are winless this season against league-leading San Jose, getting outscored 16-6 in four losses.
While some of that success might be the Sharks trying to repay the Ducks for ousting them in last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals, Anaheim hopes to recreate that magic once more against their rivals to the north.
We can’t sit back and watch,” Perry said. “Their big line has taken it to us. Their whole team has. We need to play like we did against them last year in the playoffs. That is how we have to play against every team – in your face, grind and tight checking game.”
|“We should take everything that is presented to us on a day-to-day basis," Carlyle said. "We’re going to play against San Jose. That is our focus. Historically, this group has been able to step up and meet these challenges.” |
Said Parros, “They are a good team and are hard to play against in their own building. But like any other team, they are beatable. We haven’t played a full 60 minutes against them. We’re playing better as of late. San Jose is going to be ready to go. It’s a good rivalry. There is a lot of energy always in those games. That feeds into it and hopefully we’ll come out on the winning end.”
A victory in the Shark Tank would be the ideal way to start the longest road trip of the season. “These games are just as important as playoff games right now,” Parros said. “We’re playing with some desperation and that is the way we have to play. As far as thinking about last year’s playoffs, I don’t think we do it too often, as every game is a new and fresh game. We are just looking forward to this year’s playoffs and hopefully we can get there.”Notes:
Anaheim is hopeful Saku Koivu
can return to the lineup near the middle of the trip. Prior to the team’s practice at THE RINKS - Anaheim Ice on Wednesday, the Finnish center skated for the first time since spraining his right knee at Los Angeles on January 14.
“It’s good to see that he’s back on,” Carlyle said. “That is a huge positive for us. There is a very good possibility that he will join us on the road trip. We’re targeting Atlanta (on Jan. 26).