As Ducks fans, we’ve been waiting nine months (a whole pregnancy) for this night, the home opener at Honda Center. The opponent – a Canucks team whose own home opener Anaheim spoiled last Saturday – hardly matters, just that hockey is back in this building.
Incidentally, the Ducks are the last team in the NHL this year to have their home opener, and we’re pumped beyond belief – we know that. But how pumped are the players? They’re professionals, many of whom have played in their share of home openers. Heck, Teemu Selanne himself has played in 19 of them. How much do they get energized from the thunder of a sold-out crowd, the hoopla surrounding a night like this?
The answer? Plenty. And not surprisingly, Teemu gave the best take on it all.
“When the crowd is loud for something like this, that’s where the final energy comes from. I don’t think the fans even realize how big of an influence they can be for their own players. I remember when Michael Jordan did something unbelievable in a game a long time ago and somebody asked, ‘How did you do that?’ and he said something like, ‘I don’t know where that came from. I wasn’t prepared to do that. But the energy I got from the fans in the building made me do it.’
“He said there is no way you could see half of those great plays in the game if there are no fans creating that atmosphere and bringing that ‘pump’ into your body. It’s absolutely huge.”
(As if you weren’t going to be loud enough tonight, that might push you even more.)
Here’s a few more Ducks on a night like tonight:
Devante Smith-Pelly: “Yeah, you can definitely tell when the crowd is into it. That always helps a little bit when they’re loud and cheering you on. You’ve just got to use that energy in a positive way. You can’t be running around trying to make a big hit or make a beautiful play to make the crowd loud. You’ve got to focus on playing your game, and the crowd will take care of itself.
“But especially after a lockout, the fans sticking by us during the whole process, of course we’re excited to finally get the chance to play in front of them.
Andrew Cogliano: “Any team would feed off of the crowd being into it and being loud. You just get more excited, you get more adrenaline. It creates an advantage. I’ve played in some pretty loud buildings, and this building when it’s going, it really loud and really good. Hopefully tonight is one of those nights.
“It’s a different scenario with this season because people have been waiting for a long time. Obviously with people in Anaheim and this area, they love the team and we have a lot of fans. It’s exciting for them and exciting for us that we were able to go on the road and get a couple wins and feel good about ourselves, and now we’re able to come home and hopefully carry the momentum.”
Peter Holland, who is making his season debut tonight: “Obviously when the crowd is into it and they’re cheering for you and they’re excited for hockey, it definitely gets you going. That being said, you kind of need to calm yourself down almost. You don’t want to get too high or too low. Bruce talked this week about trying not to get too distracted. I think he said 17 of the 29 teams who have had their home openers have actually lost. He attributed it to guys being distracted, getting tickets for friends and family members, getting caught up in the whole hurrah of it all.”
Boudreau gave his team that 17-out-of-29 stat yesterday, and clearly Holland listened. I talked to Dan Winnik a little earlier in the week and he pointed out how in Vancouver’s home opener last Saturday, the Canucks came out a little too pumped up, and the Ducks pounced on their way to a 7-3 win.
As Boudreau told me this morning, it’s an exciting night, but it’s his job to make sure the guys don’t get carried away with it.
“I was a player for 17 years, so I know what it feels like. It’s exciting, but you want to try and keep everyone’s emotions on an even keel. They usually because they have so many things going on the day of the game, and we’re trying to eliminate that as much as we can, so they can focus.
“That being said, I think anytime you play at home, you’re excited, so I’m absolutely pumped up.”
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