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Surging Ducks face stern test in Vancouver

by Matthew Mankiewich
DUCKS (14-22-7) at CANUCKS (28-14-3)


Last 10: Anaheim 5-3-2, Vancouver 7-2-1

Season Series: Two out of four season meetings – both at the Honda Center – are in the books. The second was handled easily by the Canucks, in just one of many setbacks in the Ducks' 3-9-2 slide to start the tenure of coach Bruce Boudreau.

Big Story: The Canucks might be surprised to see a different team when they welcome the Ducks into Rogers Arena. The uniforms are the same, as are the guys wearing them. What's different is the confidence a team can get only by racking up a few wins. The Ducks are 4-0-1 in their last five games and have regained a little swagger, something the Canucks – with their League-leading 59 points – are rather familiar with.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Let's not get too giddy -- the Ducks' recent wins have come against the Islanders, Blue Jackets, Stars and Oilers, none of whom occupy playoff spots at the moment. But wins are wins, and the latest one in Edmonton on Friday – a 5-0 whitewashing that made people wonder where this team had been all season – has everyone thinking positive.

"I didn't see one bad play out there today," Teemu Selanne said. "It was overall a very solid effort by everybody. It was the best game we've played all season. We're gaining so much confidence as a team right now.

"The last four or five games, that's the way we were supposed to have played all season. Hopefully, we can keep pushing."

Canucks: The Canucks have also won four of five, but to them it's just another day at the office. Actually, Vancouver’s been traveling for business more than anyone so far this season (26 games), particularly in the last few weeks, when they played 12 of 18 away from Vancouver. They went 12-4-2 overall and 8-3-1 on the road.

This last four-game, six-day trip was probably the most arduous as it led off in Boston with a Stanley Cup Final rematch with the Bruins and ended with a hard-fought overtime win in St. Louis. The schedule rewards them, however, with four home games in the next 12 days and a week off thanks to the All-Star break. Defenseman Alex Edler has already made plans.

“Lie on my bed,” he told the Vancouver Sun when asked what he was going to do with the free time. “Lie on my couch. We've played a lot, but you kind of get into it and sometimes it's nice to play and play. But it has been a lot of hockey.”

Who's Hot:
All-Star Corey Perry has five goals and seven points in his last five games for Anaheim, a point total he shares with Selanne and Saku Koivu. Of the Sedin twins, Henrik has had the hotter hand lately, with a goal and six points in his last five, but Daniel came up with the overtime game-winner in St. Louis and has a 12-game points streak (10 goals, 12 assists) against the Ducks.

Injury Report:
Ducks goalie Dan Ellis (torn groin muscle) says he might be out longer than the original estimated four weeks, while Devante Smith-Pelly is back in Anaheim for rehab after breaking a bone in his left foot playing for Team Canada in the World Junior Championship. …  Canucks forward David Booth (knee) has been cleared to play, but does not want to return until he is 100 percent healthy. Defenseman Sami Salo (concussion) missed his third game, and Andrew Ebbett underwent surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered last Saturday in Boston. He is not expected back until the playoffs at the earliest.

Stat Pack:
Daniel Sedin's overtime winner in St. Louis was his 700th career point. It was also the ninth OT goal of his career, tying the franchise record. Perry scored twice in the Edmonton game to give him 20 goals for the fifth consecutive season. Ryan Getzlaf had a season-high four assists in the Edmonton game. He had only one goal and one assist in his previous 10 games.

Puck Drop:
"I've got to believe it's better than it was two weeks ago and better than it was a week ago. I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We've got a long way to go and we play the best team in the National Hockey League, I think, on Sunday. (They) will have been rested for three days. We'll see where we're at." – Boudreau, in the Orange County Register, on his team's recent surge

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