There’s little question the Ducks are among the NHL’s strongest teams when they stick to their “team game,” as Coach Craig Hartsburg calls their defense-first style of play.
But it also has become clear that they struggle when they don’t follow the program as closely as Hartsburg would like.
Wingers Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya, who previously were given the go-ahead to play a more wide-open style, have had perhaps the toughest time adjusting.
“It’s on our minds a lot more to play a more all-around game,” Selanne said. “When the team is winning, [playing a more conservative style] it’s no big deal. It’s when you start losing that it’s tough. I think the numbers are going to be down because of the way we are playing.”
For instance, Selanne had a league-leading 47 goals last season, but has only 15 in 35 games this season.
Center Steve Rucchin underwent X-rays and an MRI exam on his injured left ankle Thursday in Anaheim, but the Ducks didn’t expect to release the results until this morning.
Rucchin was injured when he was struck by a shot near the end of the first period of the Ducks’ 4-1 loss Monday against the Edmonton Oilers.
Left wing Jim McKenzie rejected the idea that the Ducks were better in a 3-1 loss Wednesday to the Calgary Flames than in Monday’s loss to the Oilers.
“Better is not good enough,” McKenzie said. “Until we get the win, it just doesn’t matter. We’ve got to play well for 60 minutes.”
McKenzie is growing frustrated with the Ducks’ struggles to beat teams below them in the standings. The Ducks lead Calgary and Edmonton.
“It doesn’t do us any good to beat Detroit [which the Ducks did, 3-1, Dec. 19] and then turn around and lose to teams beneath us in the standings,” McKenzie said.
at Dallas, 5:30 PST
Fox Sports Net 2
* Site--Reunion Arena.
* Radio--XTRA (690).
* Records--Ducks 18-16-4-1, Stars 18-15-5-1.
* Record vs. Stars--2-1.
* Update--Dallas’ Brett Hull is one goal away from becoming the 12th player in league history to score 600. He was blanked in Wednesday’s victory over the New York Rangers after having scored No. 599 in a loss Monday against the San Jose Sharks. Since losing the Oct. 2 opener, 2-0, the Ducks have won two in a row over the Stars--by scores of 3-0 Oct. 8 at the Arrowhead Pond and 4-2 Nov. 26 at Dallas. Defenseman Derian Hatcher (calf), left wing Jere Lehtinen (ankle) and center Joe Nieuwendyk (bruised chest) are out for Dallas.