Ducks enjoy a power surge
Welcome to hockey hopscotching through the Western Conference, not to be taken as a literal concept, of course.
Exactly how high are the Ducks jumping after their last three games, pulling them to within one point of the final playoff spot?
“We put ourselves in a tough situation. It’s certainly nice to see ourselves going up the list instead of down,” Ducks winger Bobby Ryan said.
Three straight wins practically represents a seismic event in the airtight West, and the Ducks made an emphatic statement Sunday night, defeating the Phoenix Coyotes, 6-2, at the Honda Center, tying a franchise record with four power-play goals.
Center Ryan Getzlaf had two, both in the third period, and the others came from defenseman Scott Niedermayer and rookie forward Andrew Ebbett. Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller faced 28 shots.
Whether it was the power play going four for five or the penalty-killing unit shutting down the Coyotes on all four opportunities, the victories at this time of the season went well beyond the score sheet. For instance, there was the cut over defenseman Chris Pronger’s lip, courtesy of Scottie Upshall’s stick.
Upshall received a double minor for the high-sticking infraction late in the third period and the Ducks scored on both power plays. Pronger, in fact, had three assists and stayed out of the penalty box.
“Hey, it’s more blessed to give than to receive,” Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said.
He was reminded what day it was and said, “It is Sunday.”
Carlyle, for the record, was not talking about Pronger. But he was asked about the chippy hits Ryan had been taking.
The coach held a quick tutorial with Ryan after the second period after the Coyotes cut the Ducks’ lead to 3-2. Ryan had the second assist on Corey Perry’s goal at 9:55 of the second, which made Ryan the franchise rookie leader for points in a season (46).
Carlyle was more concerned about Ryan being on the ice for two of the Coyotes’ goals in the period.
“To me, I thought Bobby had one of his lackluster performances from a standpoint where I didn’t feel he was as effective in this game as he has been in the previous games,” Carlyle said.
“I talked to him in between the second and the third about circling away from the puck and doing those things, playing more of a straight line stop and go. He was very receptive.”
Ryan knew he was not going to be getting any verbal bouquets.
“I kind of had it coming. He pointed out a couple of things on video I needed to correct on the defensive end,” Ryan said. “He knows what to expect of me and knows when to kind of yank on the collar a little bit.”
The word “desperation” was being used liberally by the Ducks. Getzlaf said it, adding: “Every night is a playoff game for us now.”
The Ducks’ next game is Tuesday at Nashville, which holds the eighth and final spot, and because of the circumstances, the Ducks will fly there and practice rather than taking the day off.
Carlyle was asked whether it was human nature -- or hockey nature -- for his team to finally respond at this late stage.
The Ducks have won four of their last five and had played in eight straight one-goal games, tying a club record.
“No, I don’t think it’s human nature,” Carlyle said. “Human nature has the ability to add that extra level of intensity or extra level of desperation.
“But I think we’ve been playing desperate for a long time.”