Ducks eager for 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity
LOS ANGELES -- Just hours after a tense Freeway Faceoff battle in Anaheim, the Kings and the Ducks took to the outdoor ice for the first time Friday afternoon, in preparation for this weekend's Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium. Here's how the Ducks are feeling following the first practice at Chavez Ravine.
The feeling following Thursday's game
The Ducks secured two points to bring their league-leading total up to 81 points on Thursday night. The key to securing two more will be blocking out all of the fanfare and distractions, simply concentrating on playing their game.
Friday's practice served as an opportunity to get all of the awe-ing out of the way. The Ducks got a feel for the unique surroundings and are now ready to play.
"It's human nature, if this was the first time tomorrow we would be staring at the stadium and the ice and asking questions and wondering, âWhere's our family, is everybody ok?' and I think they got that out of the way today," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "Everybody can focus now."
One of the hottest teams in the league right now, Anaheim is facing big expectations and want to live up to the top billing.
"They're pretty reserved but at the same time I think they're pretty pumped up," Boudreau said. "I think they're pretty nervous being on a national stage and they want to do well but I think that comes with the territory."
One big thing missing from the indoor arenas? The video scoreboards that the players often watch while sitting on the bench.
"I guess we'll have to pay attention to the play going on on the ice," said defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
Condition of the ice
The humidity caused some stickiness to the ice. But no one from the visitors' locker room felt that it would slow down the Ducks' fast game.
"It may be a bit more burn in your legs but it will be worth it and will be a great atmosphere," Lovejoy said.
"The ice was actually good, I was pretty surprised," said center Ryan Getzlaf. "We play in different situations all of the time with different ice qualities and it wasn't bad at all."
One thing the Ducks have working in their favor is significant depth. Should their legs tire like Lovejoy said, they won't be lacking of the bench.
While many of the Ducks grew up playing outdoor hockey, for the elder statesman of the group, Teemu Selanne, this game may well be the one he remembers the fondest. Selanne was the the last off the ice during the family skate, practically being forced off by the game's PR staff, and it was obvious that he was doing his best to take in the entire experience.
"This is a one-time chance," Selanne said. "Every day, I know this is my last year so I try to enjoy every day and every moment and this is one of them."
It was Selanne's first time in Dodger Stadium and it was another first for another Duck: "It's my son's first time on the ice," Getzlaf said, as he held up a pair of tiny skates.
It's unconventional but memorable all the same.
"At no point in my childhood in New Hampshire did I skate outside in 70-degree weather at Dodger Stadium," Lovejoy said. "It is so cool and this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Maybe our children out there will be able to look back at their memories from skating at Dodger Stadium but nothing I did growing up was ever this cool."