By Kyle Shohara
Special teams work was the focus of today’s practice at THE RINKS – Anaheim Ice. As of today, the Ducks’ power play ranks 8th in the league (11-of-47, 23.4%) but their penalty killing is only good for 28th (43-of-58, 74.1%).
"The players are finally understanding the concepts of what we want to get done,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau.
“As far as the penalty killing goes, it’s a work in progress. I think we’re a lot better understanding of what we’re doing now than we were three weeks ago. And instead of four guys working individually to try to get the puck out, now we’re working as one unit, which is good.”
CLEARED TO PLAY
Cam Fowler was on the ice today and could be in tomorrow’s lineup, though Coach Boudreau wouldn’t exactly reveal his cards.
“He’s physically able to go. I don’t know if he’s going to go, but he’s got clearance to play.”
With a demanding stretch of five games in the next seven days and 25 contests over the next 45 days, Boudreau says using seven defensemen on a regular basis will give some of the older defensemen a rest.
“They’re all playing good. But in the end, I think what’s going to be good about it is using all seven defensemen. We’re coming through a pretty rough stretch. We do have a 35- , a 37- , and another 35-year-old and there’s going to be times when they need rest.
“There’s going to be times when we play teams that are a little quicker than normal, and we’ll be able to put in a little quicker unit. And there’s times when we’re going to play big teams where we need that strength all the time. It gives you a chance to move people around.”
KEEPING THE MOJO
Boudreau admitted that the six-day break the Ducks have had in between games is a bit too long for his liking.
“It’s a long break by any stretch of the imagination whether it’s an 82-game season or not. We would’ve liked it to have been a little bit less, but I think we’re hungry to play again.
“Have we lost any mojo or any of that stuff? I don’t know. We’ll find out tomorrow. The proof will be there. How we come out. Are we flat? Do we have energy? A lot of things we’ll see tomorrow.”
Daniel Winnik, on whether the break has affected the team’s momentum: “No, I don’t think so. It just gets us re-energized. The last two games we played weren’t good at all. We were lucky to get four points, especially in Nashville. We have to thank [Viktor Fasth] and [Jonas Hiller] for those wins. Hopefully we get our legs back and secure the same mojo going forward.”
FACING THE AVS
Winnik, on the Avalanche: “We need to gap-up as much as we can and take time and space away from quick teams. [The Avalanche] is not the biggest team out there. Usually it kind of kills their will, in a sense.”
The Avs will get a boost with captain Gabe Landeskog expected to play after missing 11 games due to head and leg injuries.
“He’s kind of a bull on the ice. He definitely doesn’t have to the build of 19- or 20-year old,” said Winnik. “He just works really hard. He goes to the net and that’s where he gets rewarded for most of his goals.”
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