After winning their fourth game in a row with a 5-2 victory over Colorado, the Ducks focused on taking their show on the road. Next up is a three game Canadian stint.
"It's either going to make us or break us," said Bobby Ryan. "I think this trip is going to tell us a lot about ourselves. We've got to start in Calgary with two points and then go from there."
Ryan, who was out with flu-like symptoms last night, but anticipates being healthy enough to play on Tuesday night, missed Teemu Selanne's historic moment of scoring 600 goals, only the 18th person to do so. With the way he felt, he did not care that he missed it.
"I turned (the game) on for about 10 minutes, watched that happen, then turned it right back off," said Ryan, who was well enough to skate at the morning practice. "I was happy for him, that's for sure. At the time I didn't even care. Now, it kind of stinks to have missed it. Sometimes that's the way it goes."
While most of the veterans were missing, having been given the morning off, there were two others who were on the ice this morning. Defenseman, Jake Newton, and center, Nick Bonino. Newton signed with the Ducks last week and Bonino, acquired in a trade with San Jose last year at the deadline, just signed a two-year contract.
Both 21-year-old players were collegiate stand-outs. Newton played at Northeastern University and Bonino for Boston College. Both described being with the Ducks as "surreal."
The experience they will gain with the Ducks, from now until the end of the season, will be invaluable as they go forward.
"This is just an opportunity after their season to get a taste about what life is like in the NHL," said coach Randy Carlyle. "You get to practice with our hockey club. They are getting acclimated with Sean Skahan, our strength and conditioning coach. Learn more of the routine that we like to do. Go over some of the system stuff that we talk about and how we like to play in this situation and that situation. They are basically here to be a sponge right now."
Whether or not they will get an opportunity to play in a game before the season ends depends on a lot of variables. Regardless, the youngsters, who will be joining the Ducks on their road trip, will be much better prepared when they have their first official training camp in September.
"It's always a benefit if you can get to know some of your teammates and get to know some of the people you're planning on working with," Carlyle continued. "They see that there's competition for our players to stay in the line-up. There is competition on the ice looking for a playoff spot. The desperation, the level it gets to. All those things are experiences from a pro standpoint vs. a collegiate or amateur standpoint."
Matt Beleskey, who filled in for Ryan on the top line last night, understands competing for a spot in the line-up.
"Every year you don't have a spot, that's for sure, especially being a young guy like me," said Beleskey, who is the same age as Bonino and Newton. "I'm still fighting my way in here and trying to make a name for myself. You see these young guys and you know they're going to be competition. You're going to try to help them out, but at the same time you're working hard to make yourself better."
Right now, all of the Ducks are working hard towards making the playoffs. Putting together a four-game winning streak is a good start.
"I just think that we are playing more of the up-tempo game," Carlyle observed. "We have a lot more energy. For whatever reason, that was missing for a number of games. We've given up some first goals in the game but we've still been able to battle back, stay with it. That's the most encouraging thing. Just keep pushing forward. Take it one game at a time."
As long as the Ducks are winning, they will continue to give themselves a chance. That, right now, is the only thing they can control.