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'We're in Playoff-Mode Hockey'

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com


The five teams immediately above the Ducks in the Western Conference standings will all be in action tonight. Four are playing each other, meaning the results will do little to help the Anaheim at this juncture.

“We're in playoff-mode hockey,” Perry said. “Every point is crucial for us. We are just trying to battle as hard as we can to get that playoff spot. It’s going to take everybody in this dressing room to get in.”
The Ducks spent Tuesday’s practice concentrating on themselves and what it will take from their end during these final 13 regular season games to gain a playoff berth. Loaded with firepower (being the only team in the league with five 50-point players), the Ducks feel like they needn’t worry about others if they simply play to their capabilities.

“We're in playoff-mode hockey,” said Corey Perry, the team leader in goals (36) and points (75).  “Every point is crucial for us. We are just trying to battle as hard as we can to get that playoff spot. It’s going to take everybody in this dressing room to get in.”

Getting production throughout the lineup is a concern for Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. While Perry and Lubomir Visnovsky have combined for 10 goals in the last five games (during which the Ducks have a 3-2-0 record), the rest of the team has totaled seven all together.

“It’s the responsibility of some other people in our lineup to make more of a contribution,” Carlyle said. “As we go down the stretch, that is what teams are made up of. It’s not always your main guys who are getting the points and making a difference for you. We know in order for us to have success, everybody has to be able to accountable, both on the offensive and defensive side of the puck.”

Anaheim (37-27-5, 79 points) will also need to come out of the gate much stronger than it has in the past two contests. They have headed into the first intermission of those games down by one goal. At Colorado, the team was able to quickly turn things around by scoring four second period goals en route to a 6-2 victory. Against Phoenix, the Ducks tied the game briefly in the second period before giving up three answered to the Coyotes in a 5-2 defeat.

“In this league, if you don’t play 60 minutes, it’s really tough to win a hockey game,” Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa said.  “Everybody’s motivation was high and everyone gave their best, but sometimes in those situations, you really don’t have an explanation of what happened.”

“The most important thing is, if we lose a game, the rule has to be to never lose two in a row,” Sbisa said. “If you lose two in a row right now, you are pretty much done. A lot of pressure comes with that. We try not to think too far ahead."
Echoed Perry, “If we had answers, we’d correct them. We talked about it today. We know we can’t have those things going on. We have to come out and be ready to play from the start of the game.”

The players know the next four weeks of action will not be easy. Among the teams in positions four through 10 in the West (all having between 79-84 points), the Ducks have the most games (10) against clubs currently in playoff position. Anaheim’s four back-to-back contests in that timeframe are also more than any other club.

“The most important thing is, if we lose a game, the rule has to be to never lose two in a row,” Sbisa said. “If you lose two in a row right now, you are pretty much done. A lot of pressure comes with that. We try not to think too far ahead. Everybody is aware of the last five-six games (of the season) and who we play. It’s going to be San Jose and L.A. twice in there. We want to get as many points as we can right now and not have to rely on those games.”

In the immediate future is the final regular season game against the Blues tomorrow night at Honda Center. The three previous games have been all or nothing for Anaheim. They have lost twice in St. Louis by a combined score of 14-4. However, it was the Ducks who walked away with a 7-4 victory on Jan. 12 in Orange County, a game in which Bobby Ryan recorded his third career hat trick (the first at home).

There has also been an abundance of fighting and aggressive play in those three previous contests, with the teams combining for 71 penalties spanning 279 minutes. Even with St. Louis being in 13th place in the West and 10 points out of a playoff spot, the Ducks expect another hard-fought battle puck drop tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.

“They have a team that can score goals,” Perry said. “They put nine up against us (on Feb. 19). We have to be ready to play. They may not be in the (playoff) picture, but they will still go out and try to play their best hockey. We’re going to be playing as hard as we can.”
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