For the time being, the only thing the Ducks can do is watch.
|"When our backs are against the wall, there is no choice for us," Parros (right) said. "We did what we have to do. But obviously our job is not done yet and we know that. We have to keep the fight alive from here on for the rest of the year." |
With four days off between games this week, Anaheim is relegated to the role of spectators as the others teams vying for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference take the ice. The channel-surfing begins tonight when St. Louis
) and Nashville
), both two points behind the seventh-place Ducks, play in their 80th games of the season. Four points back, Minnesota
) and Edmonton
(vs. Los Angeles
) will also be in action.
“I don’t think you can help but not watch the scoreboard,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “I think that it can’t be our focus. No matter what happens this week, we want to be playing well when we hit that ice on Friday. That is the most important thing.”
Though they lost their last contest, a close 3-2 defeat to NHL-leading San Jose
on Sunday at Honda Center, the Ducks have put themselves in a nice position despite the four-day layoff. With nine wins in their last 11 games, the Ducks have surged from 12th in the conference to seventh. If they prevail in their final two games (vs. Dallas
on Friday, at Phoenix
on Saturday) of the season, regardless of what those around them do, they advance to their team-record fourth consecutive postseason. If any of those teams falter, Anaheim
’s job becomes that much easier.
“When our backs are against the wall, there is no choice for us,” George Parros
said. “We waited around and shuffled our feet long enough. We did what we have to do. But obviously our job is not done yet and we know that. We have to keep the fight alive from here on for the rest of the year.”
|"Every game in important," Marchant said. "This is what you play for. We're in good position, but we still have two games to go. Hopefully, for us we will come out on the winning end of this playoff race and get ourselves in the postseason." |
The luxury the break does afford the Ducks is some much-needed rest for weary bodies that had played eight games in 13 days in six different cities from March 24 through April 5. The players enjoyed a day off on Monday following the back-to-back with the Sharks. They returned to the arena on Tuesday for practice and nearly half (mostly veterans) will get another day away from the rink tomorrow.
“It gives you a chance to re-charge your batteries,” said Bobby Ryan
, who is tied with Corey Perry
for the team lead in goals with 30. “Some of the veteran guys here are going to get a couple of days off. It will be good for them coming back into the weekend. They will be fresh and ready. For the young guys, I think it’s more important for us to stay ready, stay on the ice and stay focused. I think it’s going to be good for everybody.”
Playing on the first line beside Perry and Ryan Getzlaf
recently, Ryan has been one of the hottest players in the league. The 22-year-old rookie has six goals and 10 points in his last six games played. The new franchise rookie leader in goals (30) and points (56), Ryan may have not got the extended opportunity this season had it not been for an injury to Francois Beauchemin
The d-man tore the ACL in his left knee at home on Nov. 14 against Nashville
. Ryan, who because of salary cap issues began the year at the team’s AHL affiliate in Iowa
, was called up to the Ducks for good the very next day.
|"It's feeling better than I thought it would," said Beauchemin of his surgically-repaired left knee. "If there is no soreness and no setback, it may be a possibility that I play this weekend." |
Now, it looks like Beauchemin is inching closer to a return. Originally estimated to be out six months when the injury occurred, the blueliner is ahead of schedule and is amazingly a “possibility” along with Bret Hedican (back) for this weekend’s games,according to Carlyle.
“Every barrier he has burst by,” said the Ducks head coach of Beauchemin. “Right now, he’s probably in the best shape of his life. He worked extremely hard. He knew he would have to put the time and the effort in. He’s done that. That is a huge accomplishment.”
For Beauchemin, who has been practicing with the team since the end of March, he can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel in his recovery. “It’s feeling better than I thought it would,” Beauchemin said. “If there is no soreness and no setback, it may be a possibility that I play this weekend. I don’t really have any expectation actually. I just want to go out there, do my best and see how I will feel. Hopefully, I’ll feel good and be able to play the physical game I can play.”
Until they next take the ice for a game, Beauchemin and the Ducks are limited to the waiting game. Whether they are in their current position at that time remains to be seen, but what they do know is they hold their ticket to the playoffs if they win their final two games. That quest begins on Friday against the Stars, their opponent in last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals.
“Every game is important,” Todd Marchant said. “This is what you play for. When we got knocked out last year against Dallas
in the first round, as Randy likes to say, the preparation for this season started that day. Now, we’re in a situation where we’ve gone 80 games and we still haven’t solidified ourselves a playoff spot. We’re in good position, but we’ve still have two games to go. Hopefully, for us we will come out on the winning end of this playoff race and get ourselves in the postseason.”