Break Time's Over
Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 9:48 AM PT
|The last time the Ducks were in Glendale? They had a different coach and all the players had mustaches. Times have changed a bit.
Anaheim's week-long hiatus dictated by the All-Star break ends tonight when they take on the Coyotes in Phoenix (or rather, Glendale) at 6:00 our time. (Reports out of Glendale indicate that Corey Perry will reportedly be using a full-sized stick the entire game.)
For the Ducks, it's not only the first game out of the break, but hopefully the continuation of a major push to get into playoff position. That push started in early January, when the Ducks reeled off an 8-0-1 stretch to go from 20 points out of the eighth spot to 11. But it hit a slight bump in the road when the Ducks were edged 1-0 in Dallas a week ago today, the last game before the break. They go into the final 34 games of the season 12 points behind Minnesota's eighth slot.
“Everybody in the room knows what we have to do,” Bruce Boudreau said after holding a late-afternoon practice session in Glendale yesterday. (It was a practice, by the way, that All-Star Corey Perry took part in after hustling back from Ottawa.) “We’ve known what we’ve had to do for a month now. Everybody’s sense of urgency is at different times in the year, as far as teams go. There are teams that haven’t reached their sense of urgency yet. We reached ours earlier than most teams.”
The Coyotes have fallen three points out of playoff position thanks to a swoon that has coincided slightly with the Ducks' hot streak. The Yotes are 4-7-5 in their last 16 games, including a 6-2 rout by the Ducks a couple weeks ago at Honda Center.
While the break came at a time the Ducks were playing their best hockey, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said yesterday it was a welcome respite for his club. “We needed the break bad,” Tippett said. “Our group has been exhausted for a couple of weeks. I think within a six-week period, we were 28,000 miles traveled, which is unheard of in the League. I can't ever remember a stretch like this.”
Said Boudreau, “They’re in a state or urgency as well right now. And they know that we’ve beaten them the last two times we’ve faced them. It should make for a good game.”
Jason Blake, still struggling with that leg/foot injury, did not skate this morning and is questionable. Meanwhile, Matt Beleskey did skate this morning as he recovers from a hand injury suffered in the same game, but his status for tonight is still uncertain.
“It’s getting there,” Beleskey told the OC Register yesterday. ”It’s coming back. I wouldn’t rule it out. It’s just a little sore still.”