-- The season might just be seven games old for the Anaheim Ducks
, but that isn't too early to hold some team meetings.
After dropping back-to-back home games on Friday and Sunday against Pacific Division foes, the Ducks want to make sure they're all on the same page heading into Tuesday night's game at the United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle
held pre-practice meetings with the Ducks' defensemen followed by a separate meeting with the forwards and then a third meeting with the entire team following Tuesday's morning skate. The main emphasis?
"I met with the two groups and we just went over some of the things that have been transpiring in the last couple games," said Carlyle, who will be coaching his 500th NHL game -- all with the Ducks. "Some of the things are things that ail us as a hockey club and we won't have a chance for success unless we correct them. That's just a matter of fact."
Carlyle said each group went over a number of video clips from recent games to break down what happened on each and how they should have been played.
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Anaheim (4-3-0) was uncharacteristically careless with the puck on several occasions in Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes
and it led to the majority of goals against Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller
, who's expected to start against Chicago.
Hiller allowed all five goals against Phoenix and was pulled in the second period of that game, but Carlyle also didn't like what he saw from his team defensively, so he called a couple of meetings on Tuesday morning to talk it over with his team.
"It wasn't pointing any fingers and it wasn't being hard on anybody, other than that, 'This is what's happening out there and this is what we see,'" Carlyle said. "'You (guys) tell me any different. If I'm providing something that you (guys) disagree with, let's talk about it.' And that's what we did. It was very short ... just a refresher on what's going on out there."
Tuesday's game is also the first of a long seven-game road trip for the Ducks -- not to mention the Blackhawks riding a six-game point streak. Getting off to a good start of the trip against one of the Western Conference's top teams appears to be of high importance to Anaheim.
"Early in the year you always would like to start the road trip off on the right foot," Carlyle said. "You can build on it from that point forward, and that's what every team does when they go on these trips. They'd like to get the first one under their belt and play good, play solid and earn some points. All of those things are positives, because we're here to do one thing. We're here to win. We're not here to just play the game. We're here to win."
As for his career milestone, Carlyle said he wasn't aware that he was even approaching 500 games behind the Ducks bench until recently.
"Some fan told me that the other day," he said. "Some autograph seeker at the hotel told me, 'Congratulations.' I didn't even know that it had happened. I'm just fortunate enough that I've had the support and management that believes in some of the things that we do and provided us with elite-level players to coach. That's lucky."
Fittingly, Carlyle's first game as an NHL head coach also came in the United Center against the Blackhawks. He still remembers it, but not for the reasons you might expect.
"I can remember I was sick for three days before it," Carlyle said. "I had the flu, sweating, and the first goal they scored we didn't have enough guys on the ice. So, it was quite a recollection ... and we won."