Friday, 02.10.2012 / 8:29 AM PT
|That's pretty much a star-studded faceoff.
Let's just hope when it's all over, we're calling it successful.
Your Anaheim Ducks are launching an eight-game, 15-day voyage that covers just over 7,700 miles and equals the longest uninterrupted road trip in team history (here's more on that). And if you can imagine running the first mile of a marathon up the stairs of the Rose Bowl, that's pretty much how the Ducks are starting this roadie.
Tonight (or this early evening if you're in Cali) they face the Detroit Red Wings, who are not only the typical Red Wings again (first in the West) but have put together a modest little EIGHTEEN-GAME WINNING STREAK at Joe Louis Arena. And it's not like that building isn't tough enough for the Ducks, who haven't won there since the 2009 playoffs (when Todd Marchant won it from the left wing in triple OT).
"Somebody's going to break it. Why not us? " Saku Koivu told the OC Register about that home streak. "A game like that and a challenge like that, it's going to be great for us starting the long road trip. "If we can get two points in that one, that's a heck of a start for our team. And I think if you want to make the playoffs, you're going to have to beat some teams that maybe you're not expected to win against."
Detroit is expected to go with Joey MacDonald in net, as Jimmy Howard recovers from a broken finger suffered in a shootout win over Vancouver on February 2. Ty Conklin was supposed to provide relief, but he was pulled for MacDonald the very next game, an overtime loss in Edmonton. MacDonald has started the last two and gone 1-1-0.
But no matter who is in net, Detroit continues to be Detroit. "You're talking about the elite of the elite," Boudreau said. "When you measure yourself, you measure yourself against the Detroit Red Wings. They're the best in the league and whether they won last year's Cup or didn't win last year's Cup, they're the measuring stick."
The Wings took down Anaheim 5-0 the last time these two teams played there, back on November 5. But as we all know, this is a much different Ducks team.
Anaheim is on an 11-2-2 run that absolutely has to maintain on this trip for the Ducks to have any hopes of postseason contention. Last night Phoenix edged Calgary to leap into the eighth spot with 60 points, 10 better than the Ducks. For the Ducks to stay afloat, they need to do some significant damage on a journey that, after tonight, takes them to Columbus, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina.
But while the road ahead is a long one, the focus for the Ducks is strictly on a tall task tonight. "We want to approach it as one day at a time," Boudreau said. "If you look at it as, Man, by the time we get to Carolina, we're going to be exhausted, then you'll probably be be exhausted tonight. If you look at it as, It's fun to play on the road and play in a great hockey city, then it will be good."
It's somewhat of a new experience for Boudreau after spending most of his NHL coaching career in the Eastern Conference, where road trips like these aren't common.
"I don't how I'm going to feel come the end of it because when you're in the East, you don't get trips like this," said Boudreau, who then flashed his vast knowledge of the rest of the NHL. "But looking around the league, Los Angeles is on a trip like this right now, Detroit just came back from a trip like this, San Jose is on a trip like this next week, Chicago is in the middle of a trip like this. What are we gonna do, cry about it? Let's just go do it."
(Heck, I know I'm pumped now.)