Tough Test Awaits

While the Ducks have shown noticeable improvement the past few days, they will truly know where they stand when they take on a hot Penguins team Tuesday night

Monday, 11.2.2009 / 3:29 PM PT / Features
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Tough Test Awaits
By Matt Vevoda
AnaheimDucks.com


With a short trip to Phoenix now in the books, the Ducks returned to practice Monday with their sights set on three straight games back home at Honda Center this week.

“It’s a step in the right direction certainly, but two games can’t say you’re out of the woods by any means,” Marchant said. “We have to continue to work and get better. We’re definitely focused on this game and picking up where we left off.”
There have been positive signs for Anaheim the past two games, putting up seven on the Canucks last Friday and earning a point on the road against a rising Coyotes club. They will look to build on that beginning tomorrow when they play host to the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.

“It’s a step in the right direction certainly, but two games can’t say you’re out of the woods by any means,” Todd Marchant said. “We have to continue to work and get better. The Penguins are a team that can certainly embarrass you and make you look like you’re not making progress. We’re definitely focused on this game and picking up where we left off.”

Pittsburgh has not been to Orange County in nearly three years, with their last trip coming Nov. 6, 2006 (a game the Ducks won 3-2 in overtime). Since then, both the Ducks and Penguins have hoisted the Stanley Cup.

“It’s pretty weird playing against them,” Whitney said. “It’s going to be a little different. Playing against a team that has had a great start and won the Cup, it’s going to be a good test.”
Just two seasons ago in 2007-08, Anaheim was in the position the Penguins are currently, trying to become the first team since 1998 to repeat as champions. Pittsburgh has started its defense with a league-best 11-3-0 record to date. While the Ducks came up short in their bid to win consecutive titles, those who were with the team back then remember the feeling of being the last champion quite well.

“When you are the defending champs, you have that pressure on you to perform the next year,” said Ryan Getzlaf, who was just 22 when the Ducks captured hockey’s ultimate prize in 2007. “That’s a given, especially when you keep the core group together, you expect to be in the same spot again.”

Along with pitting two of the last three champions, another significant storyline to Tuesday night’s game will be Ducks defenseman Ryan Whitney and Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz each playing their first game against their former mates. The two players were traded for each other in a deal on Feb. 26. It was the first move by Anaheim in a flurry of deals around the trade deadline.

"Once I saw the (offseason) trades, I knew it would be tough," said Christensen, who was placed on waivers on Monday. "It’s competition for ice time and I knew it would be tough to get power play time or getting to play with the top line.”
“It’s pretty weird playing against them,” Whitney said. “It’s going to be a little different. I still have some close friends on that team. For us, we need to get some wins here. Playing against a team that has had a great start and won the Cup, it’s going to be a good test.”

Another former Penguin, Erik Christensen, may not be with the Ducks by game time. The 25-year-old center was put on waivers and his fate will be determined by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning. If he’s not claimed by another team in the league, he can stay on Anaheim’s roster or be moved to the American Hockey League.

“We felt in this situation, if he gets playing down in the AHL, gets his confidence back and make an impression there, then it always bodes well that he can make an impact here,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “If it’s not with our hockey club, it’s the other 29 teams in the league.”

Said Christensen, “I wanted to put up some numbers and be in an opportunity where I can stay in the NHL. Once I saw the (offseason) trades, I knew it would be tough. It’s competition for ice time and I knew it would be tough to get power play time or getting to play with the top line.”

For the players that do hit the ice for tomorrow night’s contest, there will be no shortage of firepower. While the Penguins are currently without forward Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) and defenseman Sergei Gonchar (wrist) due to injury, they still possess one of the game’s best in Sidney Crosby, who is tied for sixth in the league with nine goals.

“The biggest difference in the last two games has been Getzlaf moving his feet,” said Carlyle of the center (left), who is riding a five-game point streak (one goal, seven assists in those contests) “He’s had the puck a lot more and been around it a lot more. He’s playing to a much higher level than he previously was.”
The Ducks have a young, supremely talented All-Star center at their disposal as well in Ryan Getzlaf. Carlyle likes the play he has seen from the 24-year-old recently. “The biggest difference in the last two games has been Getzlaf moving his feet,” said Carlyle of Getzlaf, who is riding a five-game point streak (one goal, seven assists in those contests) “He’s had the puck a lot more and been around it a lot more. He’s playing to a much higher level than he previously was.”

As a whole, stronger play has been displayed throughout Anaheim’s lineup in the last two games. But in order to creep back up the standings where the Ducks feel they should be, Carlyle is stressing the need for that type of play on a regular basis.

“There are some things that we’ve shown definitely an improvement in,” Carlyle said. “What we want to do is consistently try to improve as a group. We need to try to eliminate the errors that we’re committing that are unforced. If it’s a simple pass tape-to-tape, a simple route on a forecheck, a simple rout on a breakout, we want to be a lot more consistent doing the right thing every time.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 76 47 22 7 222 213 101
2 NSH 75 46 21 8 214 180 100
3 STL 74 46 21 7 226 182 99
4 CHI 74 44 24 6 209 172 94
5 MIN 75 43 25 7 215 185 93
6 VAN 74 43 27 4 212 199 90
7 WPG 75 39 24 12 212 197 90
8 LAK 74 37 23 14 199 184 88
9 CGY 75 40 28 7 219 199 87
10 DAL 75 36 29 10 232 240 82
11 SJS 74 36 30 8 207 210 80
12 COL 74 34 28 12 200 206 80
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 75 23 44 8 158 249 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 73 24 44 14 68
C. Perry 61 32 20 16 52
R. Kesler 76 19 27 -5 46
S. Vatanen 61 12 25 7 37
J. Silfverberg 75 12 23 11 35
P. Maroon 67 9 24 -4 33
C. Fowler 74 7 26 3 33
H. Lindholm 73 7 26 22 33
J. Wisniewski 64 8 24 -14 32
M. Beleskey 62 22 9 14 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 32 11 5 .913 2.41
J. Gibson 12 7 0 .914 2.65

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