Boudreau borrows from baseball to spur Ducks

All coaches invariably talk about taking a game-by-game approach to their seasons and not looking beyond that evening’s particular contest. Bruce Boudreau is no different.

But the Ducks’ coach also likes to look at thing in a week-to-week perspective, likening his philosophy to a baseball team that strives to win series throughout a season. The idea is that if the small goals are achieved, they will naturally add up to something big.

It took some time for Boudreau to dig the Ducks out of their early-season mess, but something big has officially taken place since the calendar flipped over to 2012.

Based on weeks from Monday to the corresponding Sunday in his mind, the Ducks have won five of seven since the start of January, with 3-0-1 marks in three of them and a 3-0 record in another.

“I always liken it to a doubleheader in baseball and you want to get that first game in your favor,” Boudreau said. “Because then it takes two to make you fail. And it’s difficult to win two in a row or lose two in a row if you’re playing good.”

The Ducks have pulled back into playoff contention with a 15-3-4 run since Jan. 6 that puts them only six points out of eighth place even after a 3-2 loss Tuesday to Tampa Bay.

Jonas Hiller said that Boudreau has them playing loose because he doesn’t expect them to be perfect every night, which in term has instilled confidence over time.

“You kind of set different goals,” the Ducks’ goalie said. “It’s different. I definitely feel like he kind of found a way to make us believe in what we’re doing and showing us that if we don’t play our best, there’s still good things happening on the ice.    “It’s not like it’s the end of the world if some nights it doesn’t go your way or some nights you don’t play your best hockey.”

Boudreau said his week-at-a-time approach is meant to deal with things on a grand scale and that it isn’t about looking beyond that particular night’s opponent. But he believes it was necessary for the Ducks to have that outlook when they were 20 points out.

“I’ve always found that it can be a daunting task when you have to sit back and had to say we’ve got to go 26-5 to make the playoffs,” he said. “You’ll go, ‘Are you kidding me?’

“But if you sit there and just say, ‘Let’s win two out of three this week and then just see where it goes.’ It seems an awful lot easier. I’d rather look at it that way.”

NOTES, QUOTES

   –Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is hoping that sidelined goaltender Dan Ellis could start practicing with the team next week. Ellis has on the shelf for the last six weeks due to a tear in his groin muscle that occurred during a practice in the first week of January. Boudreau said the reports he’s getting are that the veteran has been skating on his own back in Anaheim. “He’s getting better,” Boudreau said. “I’m hoping by the time we get to practice at home next week that he’s practicing with us. He’s been out (six) weeks now. It’s been a long time.” Ellis has battled groin issues all season and has appeared in only 10 games, going 1-5-0 with a 2.72 goals-against average.
   –Rookie Devante Smith-Pelly made his first appearance for the Ducks since Dec. 8 at St. Louis. Smith-Pelly took George Parros’ customary spot on the fourth line after missing six weeks of action due to a broken left foot that occurred Dec. 26 when he blocked a shot while playing for Canada against Finland at the World Junior Championships. Boudreau said there should be no problem working the 19-year-old back into the mix. “He just has to do his thing on his line for anywhere from six to 10 minutes and that would suffice,” he said. “But if it was a guy you’re counting on to replace for 20 minutes or two guys to shift all the lines around, then it’s something that becomes a little more difficult.”
   –Jonas Hiller earned some recognition from the NHL on Monday as he was named one of the league’s three stars for the week of Feb. 13-19. Hiller was selected as the first star by going 3-0-1 in the Ducks’ four games, stopping 98 of 102 shots over that span for a .961 save percentage while recording an 0.98 goals-against average. The impressive week included Sunday night’s 2-0 win over Florida in which he stopped 31 shots for his 14th career shutout and third this season. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau had been openly campaigning for his netminder. “I guess that’s what the rumor is,” Hiller said. “He was sending letters. Making comments. Everything. It finally got me recognized.”
   –The Ducks announced Tuesday that they will not raise season ticket prices for next year and instead will lower the cost for 40 percent of their season-seat holders. “Our goal each year remains the same — to provide an entertaining experience to our customers at affordable prices,” Ducks chief operating officer Tim Ryan said. “Fans have the opportunity to see a full season of Ducks hockey starting at just $12 per game.” For the 40 percent whose tickets will decrease in price, the reductions will range from two percent to 35 percent.
 
QUOTE TO NOTE: “He just seems to always be in the right spot at the right time. The puck just kind of gravitates to him. He scores two (Tuesday). If we’re able to keep him off the scoreboard, we would have walked out of here with a victory. But he’s a dangerous player. Unfortunately we didn’t do a good enough job of defending him.” — Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, on Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos scoring two goals in the Lightning’s 3-2 victory.

ROSTER REPORT
PLAYER NOTES:

   –C Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist against Tampa Bay for his eighth multi-point game of the season and first since he scored a hat trick on Jan. 18 against Dallas. The goals were just his second in the last 19 games.
   –LW Bobby Ryan scored a goal against Tampa Bay, giving him two in his last six games and three over the last nine. Ryan also added an assist, giving him six points over his last six games.
   –D Cam Fowler had an assist against Tampa Bay, giving him his second point in six games. Fowler’s offense has largely dried up though as he went 11 games without a point. He has three goals and 17 assists, which will leave him far short of his 10-goal, 40-point rookie season a year ago.

MEDICAL WATCH:
   –G Dan Ellis continues to rehabilitate after tearing his groin muscle during a Jan. 7 practice. Ellis, who has had a groin issue throughout the season, is skating on his own in Anaheim but has yet to take any shots in goal. He is out indefinitely.

GOALTENDERS:
   –Jonas Hiller
   –Jeff Deslauriers

DEFENSEMEN:
   –Francois Beauchemin, Cam Fowler
   –Luca Sbisa, Lubomir Visnovsky
   –Toni Lydman, Sheldon Brookbank

FIRST LINE:
   –LW Jason Blake, C Ryan Getzlaf, RW Corey Perry

SECOND LINE:
   –LW Bobby Ryan, C Saku Koivu, RW Teemu Selanne

THIRD LINE:
   –LW Matt Beleskey, C Nick Bonino, RW Andrew Cogliano

FOURTH LINE:
   –LW Niklas Hagman, C Rod Pelley, RW Devante Smith-Pelly