Practice Report: Ducks Prepare for Rival Kings
After a day off yesterday following a shootout loss in San Jose, the Ducks were back on the ice Monday morning at Honda Center. Among the skaters was defenseman Bryan Allen, who has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury.
Allen took regular shifts with Sami Vatanen, and head coach Bruce Boudreau said he’ll be a game-time decision tomorrow night against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
“He’s going to let us know tomorrow,” Boudreau said. “We’ll know more. It was a fairly good skate on ice that was fairly rough because they just took the stuff off this morning. If he came out of that okay, then he’ll probably be able to play. But, we want to make sure he’s okay for the next 60 games, not the next game and hurt it more.”
Though not on the ice today, defenseman Francois Beauchemin skated yesterday and Boudreau gave an update on his status.
“When I go to bed tonight, I’m going to be hoping he’s penciled into the lineup tomorrow,” he said. “But, time will tell. When he gets to the rink tomorrow, he’ll be able to let us know how he feels.”
GRANT REFLECTS ON FIRST GOAL
Rookie defenseman Alex Grant said 11 friends and family were in attendance for his NHL debut on Saturday night in San Jose. Grant, 24, capped off his debut with his first career goal that cut the deficit in half before Ben Lovejoy tied the game a little more than four minutes later.
After today’s practice, Grant was still thinking about his memorable debut.
“It was an unbelievable feeling after it went in,” he said. “I couldn’t stop smiling on the bench. It made it that much better when we tied it up a couple minutes later. It was pretty special to have 11 friends and family in the stands. For them to be able to see my first game and first goal was pretty special.”
Grant, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for left wing Harry Zolnierczyk on June 24, had 144 games of American Hockey League experience before making his NHL debut on Saturday night. At the time of his recall, Grant ranked tied for third among AHL defensemen in goals and tied for 12th in scoring. He also led the Admirals in scoring and shots on goal (53), co-led in goals and ranked second in assists and power-play goals (4).
When asked about his offensive production, Grant emphasized simplicity.
“Just try to get pucks on net,” he said. “They always say good things happen when the puck goes on net. Fortunately enough, it was a pretty good break. It went up and over the goalie and bounced in. It’s true when people say good things happen, because you can’t score if it doesn’t go on net.”
FAMILIARITY FOR PENNER
Dustin Penner was a member of the Kings for parts of three seasons (2010-13) and won a Stanley Cup with them in 2012, but tomorrow he’ll face them as an opponent.
“There’s a lot of nostalgia,” he said. “From playing there and winning a Cup and winning a Cup here. It’s probably tougher on my friends here because they have to keep switching teams and justifying it. So now they kind of seem hypocritical by coming back to the Ducks side.”
Penner has been on both sides of this rivalry, and acknowledged there’s something special when the two teams battle one another.
“There’s a lot of familiarity with the other team, systems, players and tendencies,” he said. “It’s a unique experience for any player, especially in two cities that are heated rivals, like Edmonton and Calgary. I’ve played on both sides of this rivalry and there’s a lot of passion among its fans.”
Teemu Selanne covered a few topics after Monday’s practice.
On working out of a slump
“Last game, I think our line could’ve easily had five or six goals, but it just didn’t go in. It’s a funny thing, but as long as you get those chances, it’s a good thing. You can’t start forcing it or try too hard. Tomorrow is another opportunity and a big game. Just focus on one game at a time.”
On if his scoring drought is on his mind
“A little bit. If I was a young guy, then yes. But, I know how these things work. It’s a little frustrating, but it’s nothing more than that. You just have to end this smoothly. You can’t start squeezing the stick and forcing things. You just have to do the normal things. It’s funny how this works. You just need one and then you’re hot again. You can just feel it. Like the last game, I hit the inside of the crossbar. You can only laugh. Nothing new.”
On the rivalry with the Kings
"Both teams are going to be ready. They are good battles. We’ve created a good rivalry and that’s what this area needs.”
On if the rivalry would be bigger if they met in the playoffs last season
“Oh yeah. I think we were all excited about the first time because that one playoff series can start something really special.”