|More of this tonight, please.
When a team is as hot as the Anaheim Ducks have been lately, it seems like the only thing that can stop them is time. A few hours from now in Dallas, the Ducks can only hope to keep things rolling before they have a whole week until their next game during the upcoming All-Star break.
“You and I know where we are,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf
said. “Every game is important. It’s important to finish strong before the break and come out of the gate the way you want to. It’s a big emphasis on Tuesday’s game and get ready for the break.”
We've said it before in this space, but it's fun to repeat: The Ducks are riding a wave in which they've won five in a row and eight of their last nine. And a team that once had gone through a terrible time on the road has put together a nice little run of three wins in the last four away games. The only outlier was a 1-0 overtime loss in Calgary, in which Anaheim still managed a point.
That string will be on the line tonight in Dallas, where it's Steve Ott Bobblehead Night (I've got to get me one of those). The Stars are in a little bit of a tailspin, having lost five in a row to fall to 11th in the Western Conference (the Ducks are seven points behind them in 13th). And to add injury to insult, top scorer Jamie Benn has been out since January 15 after undergoing an appendectomy, and captain Brendan Morrow was played on IR with a neck issue. Mike Ribeiro, who has been a bit of a nuisance for the Ducks in the past, will be in there tonight after missing seven games with a knee injury. Ribeiro, by the way, scored two goals apiece in the two games before going down with the injury. Toni Lydman
, who missed Sunday's win over Colorado with the flu, will be back in there tonight. Here's the expected lineup:
The Ducks know full well that despite the progress they've made this month, there is still a heck of a way to go before they truly get back into contention.
“Our goal going into this was to win out before the All-Star break,” Bobby Ryan
said. “We talked about it. That was something we were setting our sights on. So to be three-quarters of the way there with one game left is an important feeling.
“I think we’re starting to narrowly push at it. We’ve got a tough task ahead of us. Every two points going forward is going to be monumental.”
Bruce Boudreau, in a quite enjoyable interview on Ducks Weekly
on SiriusXM, said of his team, "They're starting to believe in themselves. It's good to see them coming to the rink smiling every day. We've still got a huge mountain to climb. We know it's a long shot, but if you just keep winning…eventually you can look up. We've won a lot recently, we just want to continue it."
Boudreau also had some pretty satisfying things to say about how Ducks players tend to get overshadowed, notably Jonas Hiller
not getting recognized by the NHL for his play of the last week. "Just being out here for a short period of time and being in Washington for four years, it's easy to see that the Eastern teams get a definite advantage when it comes to publicity. Anaheim is not exactly in the limelight, so you sort of overlook guys who have done really well."
Whether he's getting the recognition league-wide or not, Ducks fans know how huge Hiller has been. He sets up between the pipes tonight having posted a .955 save percentage and 1.33 goals-against average the last six games. He hasn't lost in 2012, a year that has been friendly to the Ducks, and will hopefully get even friendlier tonight.
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