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Hockey

Ducks get competitive juices flowing at practice

Ryan Getzlaf
Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, shown in a game in December, shouts at assistant coach Trent Yawney during practice.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle still has trouble speaking at times because of a case of strep throat that won’t go away. But the Ducks’ frustrations were still voiced loud and clear Saturday. 

In the middle of what was a business-like practice, captain Ryan Getzlaf shouted at assistant coach Trent Yawney so vehemently it brought practice to a brief, awkward pause at the team’s bustling practice facility. The argument apparently was over differing viewpoints on the defense, of which Yawney is in charge.

Getzlaf downplayed the exchange but said frustration is representative of the Ducks, stuck in a 2-4-1 rut going into Sunday’s game against the Kings at Honda Center.

“He’s trying to defend his defensemen and I’m trying to hold our guys accountable,” Getzlaf said. “That’s part of the game. I’ll talk to Trent later and everything will be fine. That’s part of hockey, part of where we’re at right now where we’ve got to build a little fire in our group, and we’re both doing the same thing.”

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The post-Christmas flames have petered out. The Ducks have not won consecutive games since Jan.17-19. A return from a rough trip was supposed to reset them but their mismanagement of the puck extended to Friday. Normally tight defensively, the Ducks have committed too many turnovers, and their offense is dragged down by a one-for-21 slump on the power play.

“If we can jump-start our power play to create some offense [it will help], because right now the power play seems to be draining our hockey club of emotion and leading to frustration,” Carlyle said.

Carlyle needed a moment to get his voice back when he met with reporters, and then articulated maintaining emotion before their first game against the Kings since Nov.20.

“We’re not angels,” Carlyle said. “We don’t profess to be angels. But I think in some of the situations, we let our emotions [show] and our vocal emotions are on full display, and they shouldn’t be. They should be harbored inside, because I think that’s what feeds the emotions, the negativity, and then the opposition is fed off it.”

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A focal point for both teams, at different angles, is goaltending. Ducks goalie John Gibson was given a day off Saturday with games looming on Sunday and Monday. Backup Jonathan Bernier is recovered from illness and could be called upon for one of the games. He last started Feb.4.

“Obviously it’s been longer than what I’m expecting in-between games, but I can’t control this,” Bernier said.

“You don’t feel as sharp when the games start, but that’s why you’ve got to push really hard in practice and make sure that when you get into a game, you’re still feeling really comfortable even though you haven’t played in so long.”

The Kings are at a crucial point with Peter Budaj trying to maintain the impressive standard he set for most of this season, coupled with the lack of confidence in backup Jeff Zatkoff.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter recently criticized Budaj and cited the need for strong goaltending because they can’t outscore teams with the firepower of, say, the Washington Capitals, who also have an elite goalie in Braden Holtby.

“We’re not in Washington’s class in terms of goal scoring, so your goaltending’s got to be as good as theirs,” Sutter said.

TONIGHT VS. KINGS

When: 6.

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Where: Honda Center.

On the air: TV: FS West, Prime; Radio: 830, 790

Update: Carlyle reunited the line of Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano in practice to spark some offense. Antoine Vermette practiced with the Ducks, as he is allowed to do under the appeal of his suspension for abuse of an official. 

sports@latimes.com


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