The Ducks have been dismal since the Olympic break ended. After their most recent loss to Columbus on Tuesday, they took the day off on Wednesday to regroup, refocus and put the past behind them.
“Our group seemed to be worn down, from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “So we thought we’d take yesterday and then some video before practice of some areas for improvement and an understanding of the way we were playing and how we have to change.”
The day off seemed to have done the job and the players seemed to have more energy in their hour-long practice.
“I thought it was a good group today,” Bobby Ryan commented after practice. “Guys were a little lighter, it was a loose atmosphere and that’s important. We addressed some issues on the ice that we needed to work on, but we still had some fun and got some things done.”
One of the things the Ducks were working on in preparation for Nashville tomorrow night was the power play and the penalty killing.
In the past three games, the Ducks have gone 1 for 15 on the power play. In the past four games, they have only killed 13 of 19 penalties. Something clearly isn’t working.
“It’s a huge concern for us,” said Carlyle. “Probably two months ago, we changed up our neutral ice and we tried to become more aggressive. It has worked well at times. Then in other games it’s really cost us and a thorn in our side, specifically these last four games.”
Specialty teams should help you out when things are going bad. In this case, specialty teams are just part of the problem.
“Our overall play isn’t where it needs to be at this point,” Carlyle observed. “If everybody could improve 10% – 15%, then collectively we would play much stronger, give ourselves more of a chance.”
Right now the Ducks seem to have the proverbial snowball’s chance in you-know-where of making the playoffs.
But never say never. And righting the ship can begin tomorrow night against Nashville, who currently resides in 7th place in the Western Conference. Like Columbus, Nashville will also be on the second of back-to-back games.
“It’s a four point game and two points we desperately need,” said Ryan bluntly. “It’s important to take advantage of them early. Get in there and let their D know it’s going to be a long night. Hopefully get a lead before they find that second wind and that adrenaline that comes about halfway through the second.”
Not only do the Ducks need to get the lead (they had a 2-0 lead against Colorado and a 3-0 lead against Montreal before blowing them), but they also need to keep the lead and finish off the game.
With a fresh perspective and renewed energy, the Ducks seem ready for the task. The real test though, comes not in practice, but in practical application. Tomorrow night will determine if the Ducks were prepared.