A hockey season can turn on a word here, a play there … a moment seized by a player whose credibility guarantees that not only will teammates listen to him, but they'll take his words to heart.
One of those potentially pivotal moments occurred in Game 1 of the
The Ducks aren't taking retaliatory penalties. They're not panicking. It's a noticeable difference from last season, when they struggled through a ragged first-round victory over Dallas and then lost to the eventual
"It's business. It's a business attitude," right wing
"We're playing each and every game like it's Game 7. That's the way we have to play. We don't want to lose track of where we are but we want to keep pushing forward, stay on that right track."
Kesler, in his first season with the Ducks, has increased their confidence and concentration as much as their depth. Telling teammates to remain focused during a laugher — when they might be excused for relaxing — speaks of an intensity he has imparted to teammates.
"Compared to last year, I think we have a little more of that winning ability as a good team should have. Even if we're up by two or down by two we just keep pushing," dynamic defenseman Hampus Lindholm said.
"You always have to go for that next one. You can't sit back or quit playing. You have to keep going and I think that's something you can feel in this group this year. "
Getzlaf — a finalist along with
"Between the two of them, they've sort of taken over trying to let everybody else know not to get overly excited or overly down or overly up in any situation," Boudreau said.
It's like having extra coaches on the ice and in the locker room.
"And believe me I can use it," Boudreau said.
What the Ducks can use now is more of the patience they displayed Sunday. They could have been frustrated after they pelted Calgary goaltender Karri Ramo with 20 shots in the first period but scored only once; they let up in the second period but regained control in the third on Lindholm's brilliant goal at 11 minutes 15 seconds and an empty-net goal by Nate Thompson.
They're comfortable in any environment, which should help them when they confront Calgary's "C of Red" at the
"It's going to be a hostile environment. It's going to be loud. It's going to be crazy. The fans are going to be nuts," Perry said. "We know what we have to do — we have to play a boring road game and try and get ready."
Boudreau liked hearing that.
"As long as they're not just talking," he said. "We can't play the boring road game to the extent that we don't try to score as well. I think you can be a good offensive team and a good defensive team all at the same time."
The Ducks needed time to accept that concept but seem to coolly embrace it now. Getzlaf deflected credit for his role in making that happen.
"I think our group does a pretty good job of calming themselves," he said. "I think there's always going to be times, and there were in the past, where I've had to say things and get things calmed down a little bit, but for the most part our group has been doing the things they need to do and managing our game plan throughout the whole 60 minutes."