When Bruce Boudreau became the Ducks' coach in November 2011, he didn't know where to best use Andrew Cogliano.
Boudreau had him spend some time at center, at left wing and on the right side. "He was looking for combinations," Cogliano said. "Then these last two years I've been able to play the wing and really find a spot there."
Cogliano found a fit last season on a shut-down third line with center Saku Koivu and fellow winger Daniel Winnik, and this season they've provided speed, depth and defensive reliability during the Ducks' franchise-record nine-game winning streak.
Cogliano has 10 goals and 22 points in 39 games, one point short of his total in last season's lockout-shortened schedule. The line's work at both ends of the ice has been crucial to keeping the Ducks at or near the top in the West.
"He's been good for us every game. There's I think maybe two games for us this year where I thought he wasn't a positive factor. And it wasn't through lack of effort, it was just that things weren't going right for him," Boudreau said.
"When you have that consistency from someone, you know you can put him in the lineup every night and you're getting the same kind of game, that's perfect."
Cogliano credited Koivu's experience and calmness for the line's effectiveness.
"He's very professional. He plays the right way every night. When you play with a guy that's been around so long, it's easy to follow him," Cogliano said Friday.
"I think we found some chemistry last year, which was obviously very good for the team. I think this year we picked up where we left off. We got a chance to play with each other again, and I think we've done good things so far."
Emphasis on "so far." But he believes the Ducks won't falter late this season, as they did last spring.
"We got off to such a good start you get a little satisfied. You start lapsing," he said. "This year feels different. I feel we're in a good spot. We're ahead of a lot of teams but especially in our division any team could really catch you if you start going on a losing streak. The minute you let down and not play the right way, teams start catching you.
"For us, I think the plan is to try to get better every day. You're going to play against good teams that have good nights and you'll lose games, but I think for the most part if we're able to be consistent and play a high-level game every night we'll have a better chance of winning."
When: 5 p.m.
On the air: TV: KDOC; Radio: 830.
Etc.: The Ducks won their first three games against the Coyotes, giving up two goals each time. Boudreau said defenseman Sheldon Souray (wrist injury) is skating "every now and again" but isn't near returning. Boudreau also said goalie Viktor Fasth (lower-body muscle inflammation) won't do on-ice work for another week or so. Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who had Rocky Mountain Fever, resumed skating but isn't ready to play. Nor is defenseman Zbynek Michalek (hip injury).
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