Adversity has struck the Ducks, who still have the NHL’s best record, but are a mortal 4-4 in their last eight games and 1-3 in their past four at Honda Center.
Before Monday night’s home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ducks veteran forward Teemu Selanne said the character building of enduring a tough patch is something every team needs.
“We haven’t been as consistent as we have been before – we need everybody to get going,” Selanne said. “You have to turn things around together.
“Obviously, we want to win every game we can, but we have to remind each other there’s still a level to reach. We have to keep pushing each other. That’s the only way to get better."
There’s a multitude of reasons the Ducks (40-12-5) have lapsed to find their lead over the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks at five points with a Wednesday showdown looming.
Slow starts, “lazy penalties of hooking and holding,” as Coach Bruce Boudreau called them,
and the distraction of the three-week-long Olympic break that comes after Saturday's game in Nashville are among them.
Boudreau said “every team” is dealing with the stress or anticipation of the coming break.
“When things go well, you’ve got to push and push,” Selanne said. “We didn’t do well last year building the momentum to the playoffs.”
Ducks captain/center Ryan Getzlaf addressed the team after its first shutout loss Saturday night, 2-0 to Dallas, about how “we can’t accept this laydown,” Selanne said.
Ducks center Mathieu Perreault said “the urgency hasn’t been there.”
Selanne said while the Blackhawks “will keep you honest,” it’s a game like Monday’s and last week's home losses to Minnesota and Dallas that prove every one requires full effort and attention.
“It’s human nature, you try to remind each other you can’t take anyone lightly, but it happens sometimes,” he said. “This is a tough league.
“You win, it’s like a country club. I measure the team and players when things don’t go well. That’s how you really know people and their character. It’s easy to be a good guy when you’re winning. When you’re losing, then you really find out.”
VATANEN BACK: Defenseman Sami Vatanen returned to the Ducks from minor-league Norfolk after a six-game absence.
With six goals and eight assists through 39 games with the Ducks, Vatanen said “you never know,” when asked how long he expects to stay this time, and what his role will be.
“I played a lot [in Norfolk], it helped me a lot,” Vatanen said. “It’s not fun every time you get sent down. You just try to do your best.”
ANDERSEN FIRST OFF: Rookie goalie Frederik Andersen, unbeaten in five starts this year, is expected to start Monday after leaving the ice first at the morning skate.
Andersen is 14-2, and coming off a Thursday victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
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