Back to Back?
Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 12:29 PM PT
|Respect your elder, Edler.
Three days hence that gratifying win over the Sharks in San Jose, the Ducks will look to experience a similar feeling against another perennial West power tonight at Honda Center. The Vancouver Canucks have taken residence in their traditional spot near the top of the Western Conference standings, having won five of their last six to secure a stronghold on the 2 slot.
"We're going to try our butts off from now till the end of the year, but we've got to put a run together pretty soon," said Bruce Boudreau this morning. "You have to put a streak together. Quite frankly, there's no better way to start than playing the best teams in the league."
Coincidentally, the Canucks -- like Anaheim -- are coming off a 3-2 win in San Jose, although their win came last night on an overtime winner by former Duck Andrew Ebbett. Roberto Luongo had 33 saves in that game, but he'll get the night off tonight as the Canucks are reportedly going with super-backup Cory Schneider (whose save percentage and goals-against average are actually better than Bobby Lu's).
The Ducks took their previous matchup with the Ducks, a 4-3 game at Honda Center in which the score didn't come close to telling the story. If you'll recall, Anaheim went into the third period that night leading 4-0 and gave up three unanswered to the Canucks before hanging on. Jonas Hiller, who figures to get the start tonight, had 38 saves in that game.
As in that game, the key for the Ducks tonight is the same thing parents tell their children in the days leading up to Christmas: Stay out of the box. Vancouver boasts the NHL's top-ranked power play at a gaudy 25.0 percent. "When they get out there, they feel they can score every time," Boudreau said. "When you have that combination and that kind of confidence, you can come into buildings and dictate the way you want to play. They've got that confidence right now.
"They're so hard to defend because they're so 'non-readable. I don't know if that's even proper English,but they've got so much movement and skill, when you try and cover one thing, something else opens. Being disciplined and being smart is something we'll definitely have to be."
With tonight being the first of six straight at home, the Ducks know this is a crucial time to try and get a streak going.
"They're obviously a good team and they play very structured," Andrew Cogliano said. "I think it's going to bring the best out of ius. Last time we played them, we had a good game against them. You have no choice but to play hard and be ready. Our goal is to match their intensity and match their skill, and I think we'll do that."
Saku Koivu will likely not return tonight, as he's still batting a strained groin and Boudreau declared him "doubtful."