The All Star Break is over. Corey Perry, Jonas Hiller and Cam Fowler represented themselves at the All-Star festivities well. Hiller had the best save percentage of all six goaltenders, which is saying a lot in a game that had 21 goals, and was hit in the head with a puck (what else is new). Perry won the elimination shootout in the skills competition and was not chosen last in the draft. Fowler came back with souvenirs and great memories.
But now it is back to work. The fun and games and rest are over and now the real test starts.
The Ducks got back to practice on Monday and were joined by Ryan Getzlaf, who had missed the previous month with fractured nasal passages. He has had to don a visor in order to practice with the team, to prevent further damage. However, Getzlaf still remains wishy washy about whether or not he’ll keep it on after all is well. Clearly the impact of the puck on his face has affected his ability to think wisely. Getzlaf will remain out this week and is aiming to return to games next week when the Ducks head to western Canada on a road trip.
While most of the Ducks had rest and relaxation, Dan Sexton added more frequent flyer miles to his total. He and Matt Beleskey were sent back to Syracuse during the break. Sexton was the only one recalled again because Aaron Voros was taken off IR and rejoined the team at practice.
Voros who? Voros has played a whopping 11 games with the Ducks this season. After a miserable bout of the flu after Thanksgiving put him on the IR, he was able to play one game before exiting the roster once again after 1:25 of playing time. This time it was a fractured orbital bone and he has been missing in action since. It is a safe bet that he will still be wearing a suit on game day, this time as a healthy scratch.
So now the Ducks head into their final 30 games. 16 of those are at home, including the game against San Jose tonight, the 100th time the teams have met. 14 of the final 30 games are on the road. Anaheim went 8-3-1 in the month of January, and want to keep that momentum going.
If specialty teams remain strong, that will go a long way to earning two points every night. The Ducks are 13 for 27 on the power play in the last nine games, which is a ridiculous 48.1% rate. At 24.4% on the season, the Ducks have the second best power play in the NHL. Penalty killing has been excellent of late, too, with the Ducks killing 40 of 45 penalties in the past 13 games.
Hiller will continue to get the bulk of the work in the remaining games, and despite the high number of shots in the All-Star game, Hiller has seen worse.
The goal is to make the playoffs, something the Ducks missed last spring, and thus far they ahead of where they were last season. Every point counts, and the first two need to come tonight against San Jose.