Ducks focus on making amends for fowl starts
Last time Anaheim opened 2-0 they went on to win the Stanley Cup
ANAHEIM — In their first 18 National Hockey League seasons, the Anaheim Ducks managed to win their first two games only once. That statistic would be more embarrassing if they didn’t also win the Stanley Cup in 2007 after their lone 2-0 start.
In Season 19, the Ducks were 2-0 before Friday’s home-opener against the Vancouver Canucks.
“We have been wondering about that, too,” future Hall-of-Famer Teemu Selanne said when asked about the Ducks’ historic inability to win right away.
“That’s a good question. That’s why we have been very critical about ourselves. Last season, again, we put ourselves behind the eight-ball right away. Especially how the league has been lately — it’s going to go all the way to last games (to decide) who makes the playoffs or not – those games you lose in the first half, you can’t get back. That’s why this is important.”
The Ducks were 4-1 after five games last season before plunging over a cliff, winning only six of their next 33 games and getting coach Randy Carlyle fired.
MINNY MANNY: Canuck veteran Manny Malhotra missed the game because of the birth Thursday of his son, the third child for Manny and his wife, Joann. Malhotra is scheduled to rejoin the team in San Jose in time for Sunday’s game against the Sharks.
Andrew Ebbett, a healthy scratch in Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout win against the Calgary Flames, replaced Malhotra on the fourth line between wingers Aaron Volpatti and Max Lapierre. Lapierre played Friday despite a sore groin that kept him from practising the previous day.
“Obviously, there’s some pain but I’m fine to play,” Lapierre said. “It’s OK. It’s not the first time I’ve played in pain in my career.”
FACEOFF, WAY OFF: Canuck coach Alain Vigneault chortled when reminded about his attempt in Wednesday’s game to have rookie call-up Jordan Schroeder take a faceoff with one second remaining in the first period. Vigneault pulled goalie Cory Schneider and sent out Schroeder, a right shot, to try to one-time the puck on net from the right-wing faceoff dot.
But Schroeder, a 22-year-old making his NHL debut, didn’t have the nerve to tell Canuck captain Henrik Sedin to back out of the circle. So Sedin, a left shot, took the faceoff on his backhand and time expired while Vigneault watched in bewilderment.
“I didn’t yell (to Sedin) because I thought it was pretty obvious why Jordan was out there,” Vigneault smiled. “I kind of thought they’d figure it out.”
Sedin, apparently unaware of the foul-up until Friday, turned a deeper shade of pink when told that Schroeder was supposed to take the faceoff.
“I thought I could draw it back to him, no?” Sedin said.
Only if Vigneault was running the clock.
BACK TO FUTURE: Five years since his impressive rookie season, speedy Anaheim forward Andrew Cogliano is still trying to get back to where he started in the NHL. He was off to a good start with four assists and a plus-five rating in his first two games.
Cogliano, traded to the Ducks by the Edmonton Oilers two years ago, spent much of the fall training in Vancouver, where his girlfriend lives. Working with a personal trainer and Vancouver-based sports psychologist Saul Miller, Cogliano skated “six or seven” times at the University of B.C. with a Canuck group that included Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Malhotra, Schneider, Kevin Bieksa and Chris Higgins.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league and after skating with some of those guys this summer, I can see why,” Cogliano, 25, said. “I saw how hard they prepare and practise. I know Manny from Toronto, and the Sedins and Bieksa, they all work so hard. They were riding the bike and running before the skates.Those workouts were such high intensity.”
Cogliano had 45 points as a rookie with the Oilers in 2007-08 but hasn’t reached that number since. Last season, he had a career-low 26 points for the Ducks.
“I’m trying not to get ahead of myself,” Cogliano said of his fast start. “I’ve done that in the past where I could get satisfied and say I’ve had some good games, then I go the other way.Consistency is the biggest thing for me.”
QUOTEBOOK: Schneider on the Canucks: “We need to find urgency in our game. We can’t sit here and say the first road game is more important than the next one. They’re all extremely important. I think once we get that (mindset) into our game and the fact that every game determines who makes the playoffs, that’s first and foremost.”
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