Ducks Feeling Optimistic After San Jose
Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 2:24 PM
|Helmets allow aggressive pats on the head.|
Any why not? Monday night's 3-2 victory, in one of the tougher buildings to pull a win from, was among the finest performances of this frustrating Ducks season. And it has a lot of Ducks talking about rolling it into a good "second half" (even though at 35 games played, we're still not to the halfway point of the campaign yet).
"It was a big game for us," Andrew Cogliano, who had a big goal in that game, said today. "It’s a tough building to play in and San Jose is a tough team. It just gets the ball rolling for the second half of the year. We’re looking to win games and put a bunch together hopefully. That was a good way to start and now play another good team in Vancouver."
Indeed, if the Ducks want to make a habit of winning games -- and doing it against the class of the Western Conference -- they'll have to keep it going tomorrow night against the Canucks. It's the start of a six-game homestand for Anaheim, but they're only thinking about the first one.
"The goal is to take one game at a time," said Cogliano, whose play on the third line was praised by Bruce Boudreau today. "Hopefully, we can get a win and build on it from there. You feel good about yourself and playing. I think that started in the last game playing against San Jose, which was good for us. Hopefully, you can go on a little run. There is no better place to have six games at home to start.
Boudreau, too, was all for discussing that encouraging win in SJ this afternoon. "I was really excited about it the last few days because I thought we played really well," he said. "I came away from that thinking we played hard and as well as them. They had a flurry of shots in the last six minutes because they had two power plays and they were desperate. They routinely outshoot every team.
"I was impressed with the way we hung in. We played the way we wanted to play and didn’t give up a lot of Grade ‘A’ scoring chances the first two periods ... We bent a little bit, but we never broke. We got that third goal and hung tough in the third period. That was a good sign. That is probably the reason I am so excited about tomorrow’s game because it’s another great test for us."
Boudreau was also intent to compliment the play of Matt Beleskey, a guy who survived being put on waivers by the Ducks just before Boudreau took over, but has come back to make a huge contribution lately. He's been playing much of the time on the third unit with Cogliano and Andrew Gordon/Kyle Palmieri.
"The last few games from the first few games that I was here, he’s playing hard and competing harder," Boudreau said of Beleskey. "When you compete harder, you get opportunities. He’s getting opportunities to score, creating chances, he’s doing a good job of checking and he’s getting involved. He’s gotten in two fights I think in the last five or six games. When you get involved and engaged in the game, then opportunities come.
"He’s gotten points, been on the ice for goals for and not too many against. The biggest difference is Matt. When Matt is not sitting around watching the play, he’s being proactive on it."
The Ducks practiced for the second straight day former second-line mainstays Saku Koivu and Jason Blake on the ice. Koivu (groin), of course, is much closer to returning than Blake (lacerated arm), but Bourdreau was uncertain on whether that return would come tomorrow night. "It’s up to him. I don’t want to be coy, but it’s day-to-day," he said. "I certainly like him to be able to play. We’ll see how he feels. Probably a better indication will be to see how he feels tomorrow after today."
Blake talked to reporters yesterday after skating with the team for the first time since getting cut just above the left wrist in the third game of the season (a win over SJ at Honda Center). He has been skating on his own for the last several weeks, but only started handling and shooting the puck in the past few days.
“Overall, it felt good,” Blake said. “It’s just nice to be out there and be a part of the team again. It was good."
Blake was originally supposed to be out three months, which would have his return scheduled for the middle of next month.
“Right now it’s about getting in game shape," he said. "I have to practice with the guys here for a few days and re-evaluate it, see where I’m at. I’ve got to start strengthening my arm. I’ve been doing a lot with the wrist, but I have to strengthen my triceps and biceps.”