By Kyle Shohara
Because of tonight’s Bon Jovi concert at Honda Center, the Ducks held their afternoon practice at THE RINKS – Anaheim ICE.
Ducks forward Emerson Etem practiced with the team for the second consecutive day, and head coach Bruce Boudreau said there’s a chance he’ll play in tomorrow’s Home Opener against the New York Rangers.
Special teams work was an emphasis during today’s 90-minute practice. The Ducks are currently ranked 24th on the power play (11.1%) and 29th in penalty killing (54.6%). Captain Ryan Getzlaf says special teams will be a focus not only early in the season, but throughout as well.
“Special teams is the biggest part of the game,” he said. “When you talk about penalty killing and power play, if you win that battle, nine times out ten you’re winning that game. Those are going to be our focus throughout the season.”
“It’s early in the season and I don’t think our power play has gelled like we want it to yet,” said defenseman Ben Lovejoy. “Our penalty kill is certainly not where we want it. We’ve given up five goals in three games, and that’s unacceptable. This league is so evenly matched. Special teams is so important. We’re not where we want to be yet with our special teams, so we’re going to continue working on them.”
GOOD TO BE BACK
After starting the season with three consecutive road contests, the Ducks (2-1-0) are back in Anaheim for five games at Honda Center. The Ducks enter tomorrow’s game winners of two straight and hope the momentum carries into the homestand.
“Guys were motivated, guys were [ticked off], and we wanted to make a statement,” Lovejoy said. “We came back 2-1, and we’ve got a team tomorrow that’s feeling like we did after Colorado.”
“When you go out on the road like that, it’s not always the easiest thing,” Getzlaf said. “We’ve got to take care of our building now and the excitement going into tomorrow night.”
Boudreau said he’s looking forward to his team’s first home game of the regular season. “We always like the home cookin’ a little bit better,” he said. “At the same time, we know what happened when we lost 6-1, and how we approached the next two days. And with San Jose beating the Rangers like they did, we know we’re in for a real tough game.”
SECOND LINE CHEMISTRY
Jakob Silfverberg has two goals in three games thus far, and leads the team with 10 shots on goal. The 22-year-old (who turns 23 on October 13) has played on Anaheim’s second line alongside center Mathieu Perreault, who also has two goals. Though their wingers have changed over the first three games, Silfverberg says the chemistry between him and Perreault gets better on a daily basis.
“I love playing with Mathieu,” he said. “I think we have good chemistry out there and it just gets better and better after each game.”
Silfverberg has a knack for always making himself available in scoring areas, and he credits that to his linemates. “Mostly because the other two do such a great job with the puck,” he said. “They create the space. Beating their guys 1-on-1 makes the defensive team move. And, when the defensive team has to move, it usually opens up a spot. That’s where I try to be.”
‘WE’VE GOT OUR WORK CUT OUT FOR US’
It hasn’t been an easy start to New York’s brutal nine-game, 23-day road trip. So far, they’ve been outscored 14-6 in their first three games (1-2-0), including a 9-2 loss last night in San Jose. The Ducks know they’re in for a fight.
“We’ve been in their shoes six days ago,” said Lovejoy, whose familiarity with the Rangers traces back to his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “You never want to play like that. I’m sure they’re having a tough day today. I’m sure they’re working hard, I’m sure they’re [ticked off], and they want to take it out on us tomorrow. We’ve got to be ready. They’re a tough team to play against. They have a world-class goalie and their D-core is some of the best in the NHL. Their forwards work hard. They’re a team that’s tough to play against, and they want to the play below the goal line.”
“They’re a hardworking, shot-blocking defensive-minded team,” said Boudreau. They’ve got arguably one of the top-three goaltenders in their net. By chasing [Lundqvist] last game, I’m sure he’s going to be mad, which is never a good sign. We’ve got our work cut out for us. It was two years ago when they went to the final four, and last year they had a good team and did well. I expect them to bounce back and play hard tomorrow.”
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