Every time it seemed the
"There were a few of them, trust me," team captain
Thanks to a commitment to defense and the weakness of the
"The start of the [season] wasn't easy for our group and having gone through it, hopefully we appreciate where we're at now and continue to play this way," said Getzlaf, who is stuck at three goals but has been more engaged and assertive lately. "I've never been in a position where I've been out of the playoff picture at Christmas. This year, fortunately enough, our conference struggled through the first half and we're still in it."
"He said he was tired of losing," Boudreau said, and then Kesler and his teammates did something about that.
The Ducks have given up two goals in their last four games and seven in the last six (excluding shootout goals), buying into the idea that strong defense is a foundation for offense.
"The guys have really taken to it and you can really hear them talking on the bench about it, about doing the right things," Boudreau said. "We're not out of the woods by any stretch of imagination but we are playing a little better."
Kesler credited Boudreau for keeping the team motivated.
"I think the coach did a good job of telling us to hit the reset button after Christmas. He told us to have a good break and come back and play and start a new year, a new season, and just go out and do what we do," Kesler said. "Everybody has faith in Bruce. We as a team have never strayed away from that. We like him as a guy and as a coach. We've worked for him and we're going to continue to work hard for him."
This can't be their high point. But not long ago it was tough to envision they'd find the consistency to be a few points from second place and having home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"We've battled hard. We've fought through a lot of adversity this year, everybody personally and as a team," Kesler said. "We're playing well. We've found our identity. I think with this team it starts with defense first and then we're going to create off that."
Russia and Finland reach junior world championships final
Russia scored twice in the second period and fended off a late push by the U.S. to earn a 2-1 victory Monday and advance to the gold-medal game of the junior world championships at Helsinki, Finland. Russia on Tuesday will face Finland, which defeated Sweden, 2-1, on two-assist performances by
Finland eliminated Canada in the quarterfinals, capitalizing on players' lack of discipline.
The U.S. will face Sweden on Tuesday in the bronze-medal game, to be aired on the
"It's a tough pill to swallow," U.S. forward Auston Matthews, the likely No. 1 draft pick in June, told the Canadian Press.
The U.S., whose goal Monday was scored by Arizona
Russia, which barely beat Denmark in the quarterfinals, got goals Monday from Winnipeg prospect Pavel Kraskovski and 2016 draft-eligible forward Yegor Korshkov.
Fatigue might have caught up with the Dallas Stars, who have played six games in nine days and have gone two games in a row without a victory for the first time this season. Goaltender