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Ducks Ready for Physical Battle Against Blues

Friday, 02.28.2014 / 3:35 PM / News
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Ducks Ready for Physical Battle Against Blues
The wait is finally over. After nearly three weeks since their most recent game, the Ducks get back to action tonight as they host the St. Louis Blues at Honda Center (7 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket, AM 830).
MORNING SKATE PHOTOS
By Kyle Shohara
AnaheimDucks.com

The wait is finally over.

After nearly three weeks since their most recent game, the Ducks get back to action tonight as they host the St. Louis Blues at Honda Center (7 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket, AM 830).

Every team except the Ducks has played at least once since the conclusion of the Olympics, including the Blues, who dropped a 1-0 contest in Vancouver two nights ago. The Ducks will have to fight rust in tonight’s game, something head coach Bruce Boudreau is well aware of having watched the games around the league over the past few days.

“It’s the first game in 20 days for a lot of teams with no preseason games,” he said. “Most of them have only practiced with 11 or 12 players. You add it all up and it adds to mistakes.”

Miscues will have to be few and far between against the physically punishing Blues, who come into tonight’s game just three points behind Anaheim with two games in hand.

But the Ducks have found success against the Blues, having won the first two games of the season series, both in St. Louis. Boudreau says his team’s starts have been crucial in those victories.

“Statistically, we’ve jumped into the lead and made them play catch up,” he said. “They’re a pretty hard team to play against if you’re trying to catch up against them. It’s important to get a lead on them. We’ve been just lucky enough to hold on in both games.”

Boudreau also says the Ducks have had the edge between the pipes.

“Both games have been real wars out there, but I thought we’ve had a little bit better goaltending in the first two games.”

GOOD TO BE BACK
As refreshing as the 10-day mandated break was for many of the Ducks, there’s a sense of excitement heading into tonight’s game. The players know this is the time to generate momentum leading up to the postseason.

“Everybody is excited,” said Saku Koivu. “Guys are anxious to get back. With only having 22 games left, we’ll try to get things going right away. And what a better opportunity than starting at home against St. Louis battling for the top spot.”

Matt Beleskey said the break felt like a “mini summer vacation,” but a good 10 days of practice has his teammates fired up for the final push to the playoffs.

“It’s been a long time, but we’re excited,” he said. “We’ve worked hard this week, and we’re ready to go. There’s no leeway for mistakes or slow play. We have to be ready to go tonight.”

LEARNING FROM THE PAST
Much like this season, the 2012-13 campaign saw the Ducks at or near the top of the standings through three-quarters of the way, only to fizzle for the final 20 games. In those games, the Ducks only managed to go 8-8-4, and were bounced in the first round by the seventh-seed Detroit Red Wings.

It was a learning experience for the Ducks, who today find themselves sitting atop the NHL with 87 points (41-14-5).

“We’ve been talking about it all season,” said Beleskey. “We’ve been talking about getting better every day and improving as a team. We want to be on a roll when we get to the playoffs. That’s our goal.”

“We want to keep improving our game individually and as a team,” said defenseman Francois Beauchemin. “We want to be at the top of our level when we get to the playoffs.”

EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Dustin Penner-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Patrick Maroon-Mathieu Perreault-Teemu Selanne
Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Andrew Cogliano
Matt Beleskey-Nick Bonino-Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler-Ben Lovejoy
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Bryan Allen-Mark Fistric

Jonas Hiller is expected to get the start in net.

DUCKS-BLUES
The Ducks have won the first two games of the season set in St. Louis, including a 5-2 win on Dec. 7 and 3-2 victory on Jan. 18. The Ducks own a 35-32-10 all-time record vs. St. Louis (20-15-2 at home) and are led by Teemu Selanne’s 61 points (25g/26a) in 72 career games against the Blues. The Ducks have won a franchise-record six straight home games over the Blues dating to Jan. 7, 2010.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 63 41 15 7 191 151 89
2 ANA 63 39 17 7 186 176 85
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 63 37 21 5 183 150 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 61 29 20 12 164 157 70
9 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 COL 62 27 24 11 166 179 65
12 DAL 62 27 25 10 195 207 64
13 ARI 62 20 35 7 137 210 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 60 19 40 10 59
C. Perry 48 26 17 13 43
R. Kesler 63 16 23 -2 39
S. Vatanen 57 12 22 6 34
M. Beleskey 56 21 9 13 30
P. Maroon 55 7 21 -4 28
H. Lindholm 60 6 22 17 28
J. Silfverberg 62 9 18 7 27
C. Fowler 62 5 21 -2 26
R. Rakell 52 5 19 4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 29 8 5 .916 2.37
J. Gibson 7 5 0 .914 2.63

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