The Ducks are middle-of-the-pack in allowing goals, tied for seventh in the Western Conference.
Yet, given the losses they’ve suffered among defensemen, the ranking is admirable.
The play of goalie Jonas Hiller and his backup, Frederik Andersen, along with the strong pairing of defenders Cam Fowler and Ben Lovejoy, are pointed to as the chief reasons.
Another is the team’s offensive-minded philosophy.
“It starts at the top, and if the top guys are getting puck deep, there’s no excuse for anyone not to,” fourth-line forward Matt Beleskey said Wednesday morning following the team’s skate preparing for the night’s game against the visiting Minnesota Wild. “The way our system is, anyone can step in and play.
“It’s not difficult. Hard work, get the puck deep. It’s an easy system to execute as long as you work hard.”
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Dustin Penner have combined for 45 goals and 50 assists for the first-place Ducks (21-7-5), who are outscoring foes 52-24 at Honda Center, where they’re 11-0-2.
“If the pucks in their end, they can’t score,” Beleskey said. “If we can work teams down low, then they get tired and have to change when they’re on offense.
“Obviously, defensively we try to protect the posts … we’re doing well against top lines."
Beyond the strides 19-year-old Hampus Lindholm has made and the smarts fellow defender Bryan Allen has displayed, the Ducks have defensive-gifted forwards like penalty killer Daniel Winnik.
And it’s helped cover up what might've been more telling injury losses to Sheldon Souray (out all season) fellow veterans Francois Beauchemin (nine games missed) and Luca Sbisa (nine games played).
“If you outwork a team, you’re going to be succesful … it doesn’t matter who you have in the lineup,” Beleskey said.
MORE PAIN: Defenseman Mark Fistric and Beauchemin (upper body injuries) won't play Wednesday, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if,” Beauchemin “is playing in Detroit” on Tuesday, Boudreau said.
HILLER THE MAN: Hiller left the ice first Wednesday, and should get his fifth start in six games.
ROAD WEARY: Minnesota (18-9-5) is getting solid goaltending from Josh Harding (16 wins, 1.50 goals-against average), but the Wild have won just five of 14 road games and have been outscored 42-28 away from home.
“Every game is almost a one-goal game,” Boudreau cautioned. “Mental toughness is going to be a big part of this game, and if you don’t have everyone playing, you’re going to be in trouble.”
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