Is it possible for the 29th-best team in the NHL to worry about complacency?
The Anaheim Ducks
are far from relevant in the postseason picture, but a 5-0-1 streak has generated some buzz, and coach Bruce Boudreau
is concerned about a letdown in Thursday night's home game against Phoenix.
"I told them I'm nervous about this game," Boudreau said. "We have no right to ever be complacent about the position that we're in, but complacency can always set in to a team that's had a two-week run that's been pretty good. But you know what? They've had a two-week run that's been pretty good, too. They know they can bury us. They play us twice in the next five games. They know they can do some damage if they beat us both times."
Anaheim is coming off a successful road trip in which it went 2-0-1 against Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The Ducks are playing well, but Boudreau said it's not a big sample size.
"We're making a bigger deal of it -- it's just a short stretch," he said. "If it was 15 games, then we're talking about a trend."
Hiller hot: Jonas Hiller
has been the backbone of Anaheim's resurgence.
He has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his past five starts, including a stretch where he did not allow a goal for more than six periods.
It's quite a change from earlier this season, when Hiller was giving up a lot of rebounds behind a suspect defense. Hiller said the latter has been part of the difference.
"We're more solid on our own end," Hiller said. "We get pucks out more often. We don't give up that many high-quality scoring chances. It feels like if you make two or three big saves a game, you're not getting scored on at all, where before you might make two or three big saves and you still get scored on four goals because you gave up seven or eight great scoring chances."
Hiller, like the rest of the team, has finally found new attitude that Boudreau has sought.
"I definitely also feel that confidence that if I get scored on the team is still going to be there and still able to score," Hiller said. "We're not worried like before. … Right now there's definitely less pressure on me because we score a lot more it seems like and we play more in their zone."
Lydman turns a corner:
Good things happened for the Ducks when Toni Lydman
was on the ice last season. His plus-32 rating was among the League leaders.
This season he has trended the other way, bottoming out with a season-low minus-13 rating on Dec. 12.
That's also a reflection of the team, but Lydman has owned up to his struggles and said it has nothing to do with not being with last year's partner Lubomir Visnovsky
"No, I struggled with Lubo, too," Lydman said. "I struggled with everybody. It wasn't about the partners. It was more me dragging them down."
Lydman said Boudreau has met with him "a couple of times" this season and has emphasized getting Lydman to move his feet and be more physical.
Partnered with Sheldon Brookbank
on Anaheim's third defensive pairing, Lydman is in a diminished role but has turned a corner with a plus-4 rating over the past five games.
"I think it's more things just started to go wrong and then it was hard to stop," Lydman said. "I think it was more mental than anything. Personal game reflected the team game pretty much. On some nights it even costs us game. A big part of it is confidence. As long as it's turning the right way, that's all that matters."