Practice Report: Ducks Look Ahead to Second Half
The first practice of the New Year took place this afternoon at Honda Center, where the Ducks skated for a little over an hour after a day off yesterday.
The holiday break unofficially signals the start of the second half of the season, and the Ducks currently sit atop the league standings with a 29-8-5 record for 63 points. But teams don’t win championships in January, and the Ducks will have to take it to another level to continue having success through the end of the regular season and beyond.
“It’s a good start, but there’s more to reach than this,” said Teemu Selanne. “We have to build momentum for the playoffs. But right now we want to take it one game at a time and get better every day.
“Last year we were happy with how we played in the regular season, but we couldn’t take the next step in the playoffs. That’s the mindset we need to have. We have to build momentum for the playoffs.”
Ben Lovejoy’s highlight-reel save on Joe Thornton’s open-net opportunity will be remembered for quite some time. Not only did Lovejoy prevent a sure goal, but the ensuing rush up the ice resulted in Matt Beleskey giving the Ducks a two-goal lead in an eventual 6-3 victory over the Sharks at Honda Center.
It was the icing on the cake for a memorable New Year’s Eve for the Lovejoy family, because earlier in the day, Ben and his wife, Avery, welcomed their first baby (daughter Lila) into the world.Ducks off the Ice reports on how the day unfolded for Lovejoy and his family.
COMFORTS OF HOME
There will be a lot more home-cooked meals during the final 40 games of the regular season. The Ducks have already completed 61% of their road schedule with a league-leading 25 games and have no more travel to the Eastern Time Zone this season. In addition, the Ducks have only four games in the Central Time Zone (Jan. 9 at NSH, Jan. 17 at CHI, Jan. 18 at STL, Feb. 8 at NSH) of the 16 remaining on the road schedule.
No team in the league is better at home than the Ducks, who have yet to lose in regulation at Honda Center (15-0-2). Anaheim is only the third NHL team in 25 years to start a season with a home standings point streak of 17 games or more. The two others are San Jose (20-0-2 in 2008-09) and Calgary (unbeaten streak of 14-0-3 in 1988-89). The Ducks’ streak is also their longest home standings point streak in club history at any point during a season (previous best was 14 games). (Elias Sports Bureau).
“My wife is already asking when the next road trip is,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “We’ve had good success at home and we love playing in this building in front of our fans. We loved it the other night, especially, when [our fans] were rowdy and [the arena] was full. It’s amazing how much energy that gives to the players.”
“We all know home is where we want to feel comfortable,” Selanne said. “We want to make it a hard place to play. It’s all about confidence. To play well at home gives you a lot of confidence.”