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Pacific Division notebook

Randy Carlyle feeling comfortable in second stint as Ducks coach

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Randy Carlyle had a built-in comfort level, but he was as focused on what and who he didn't know when he returned this season for a second stint as coach of the Anaheim Ducks.

Carlyle previously spent six-plus seasons as Ducks coach, from 2005 until he was dismissed 24 games into 2011-12. He won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.

"The transition back into Anaheim was very simple because I knew everybody, had relationships with I'd say 95 percent of the people here," Carlyle said. "But working with people and having relationships is different.

"And it's the same with players. I had coached (Ryan) Getzlaf, (Corey) Perry, (Cam) Fowler, (Andrew) Cogliano, and also (Ryan) Kesler and (Kevin) Bieksa when I was in (the American Hockey League in) Winnipeg. There is some familiarity with people, but there's also half the team you've never coached before.

"The transition in that way has been smooth. But coaching in the NHL is a challenge every day, and new challenges are brought to you through success, lack of success, injuries, call-ups, travel, scheduling. And now there are games in a shorter time frame than before, and you always have the (question of) practice versus rest and travel versus not traveling at certain times."

Carlyle's attention, like that of many of his peers, has turned this season to the puzzle of fitting practice time into the schedule.

Video: ANA@CBJ: Rakell's redirect sneaks past Bobrovsky

He said that daily schedule hasn't been easy and he now leans toward more rest in many circumstances.

"We did stress to our group that we weren't going to have the quality practice time we're accustomed to having," Carlyle said. "And specifically being on the west coast, well, we've come to the east twice now two days early instead of one and we're not leaving (to go home) until the next day after some games to give our players an opportunity to rest."

When the Ducks' three-game road trip this week ends at the Nashville Predators on Saturday, they will stay overnight and go back to California on Sunday morning.

"We've found that historically, (going back right after the game) emptied the tank for the next game at home," Carlyle said. "We feel if we stay over and travel, leaving at a decent time, we can be back in the city by noon and we can still choose to practice then.

"If you're going to ask the players to give you 110 percent, then they have to be rested."

The Ducks' 0-3-1 start to the season may have caused early worry, but Carlyle said it was almost predictable.

Anaheim had seven players -- Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, John Gibson, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

"At camp, the (preseason) games started right away and that meant we were understaffed," Carlyle said. "We didn't have our team together early.

"Then the next thing you know, we're on a five-game trip to start the season. It was a surprise how fast it came up even though we knew it was coming. Until you live it, well, it was challenging."

The Ducks found a better rhythm at the end of that five-game trip and are 6-2-2 since, including 3-1-1 in their past five games.

"Our lineup has been changing with the addition of some pretty impactful players," Carlyle said, noting the addition of late signees Rickard Rakell and Lindholm, who played his first game of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

 

Kings coping

Peter Budaj's first back-to-back shutouts are a great sign the Los Angeles Kings can remain a contender in the Pacific Division while No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick is out.

Quick sustained a groin injury in the Kings' season opener on Oct. 12 and is expected to miss three months.

That puts his return into the New Year, and the Kings have some tough sledding ahead before that will happen. A 7-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday moved them above .500 at 7-6-0. Ahead are four more games of this road trip, then a monster assignment in December - nine straight on the road.

That lengthy string of away games begins Dec. 13 at the Buffalo Sabres, and includes seven games before Christmas and the first two after the holiday. It will amount to nine games in 17 days, including no games Dec. 23-27.

The goaltending tandem for now will be Budaj and Jeff Zatkoff, who returned to the active roster on Monday after a groin injury.

The schedule ahead is light on divisional rivals. The Kings play four Pacific Division opponents between now and Christmas. There is one other demanding stretch of road games, nine in a 10-game span, between Jan. 21 and Feb. 9, but after that, the schedule may favor the Kings. Their five-day schedule break is Feb. 10-15 and they have 13 of their final 20 games at home starting March 2.

Video: ANA@LAK: Budaj keeps puck out through chaos in front

 

Stat pack

The Kings' consecutive shutout wins were their first two regulation victories of the season. They are 5-0-0 when reaching overtime this season. …The teams with the best record within the Pacific Division are the Edmonton Oilers (3-0-0) and the Ducks (4-0-1). …Seven different defensemen have either held or shared their team's scoring lead, including Alec Martinez, who has nine points in 13 games and shares the top spot on the Kings with forward Jeff Carter. …The Ducks are the NHL's top faceoff team at 58.6 percent and center Antoine Vermette is the League's top faceoff man, among those who have taken at least 50 faceoffs, at 67.3 percent. … Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is second in the League in ice time per game at 27:11, trailing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (28:34).

 

Games to watch

Edmonton Oilers at Anaheim Ducks (Nov. 15, 10 p.m. ET; PRIME, SNOL, NHL.TV) -- It's the first game of the season between the Oilers and Ducks and based on early results, it could be the battle of Pacific Division heavyweights. It's the first of a three-game road trip for the Oilers.

Arizona Coyotes at Calgary Flames (Nov. 16, 10 p.m. ET; SN, SN1, FS-A+, NHL.TV) -- Their first game of the season against the Flames starts a crucial stretch for the Coyotes. Arizona has eight straight games against Pacific Division rivals, beginning with this game against the Flames, with each side scratching for points.

San Jose Sharks at Arizona Coyotes (Nov. 19, 8 p.m. ET; FS-A, CSN-CA, NHL.TV) -- The Sharks finish a six-game road trip at Gila River Arena. The Coyotes won the first game against the Sharks, getting 39 saves from Louis Domingue and scoring three second-period goals at home on Nov. 1 for the 3-2 victory.

Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks (Nov. 20, 8 p.m. ET; PRIME, FS-W, NHL.TV) -- The Southern California rivals are usually a must-watch game and play for the second time this season and for the first time at Honda Center. The Ducks won 4-0 at Staples Center on Nov. 1.

Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers (Nov. 21, 9 p.m. ET; SNOL, CSN-CH, NHL.TV) -- A battle of Western Conference elite teams is shaping up for this game at Rogers Place. It's a one-game stop at home for the Oilers between two road trips.

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