Ducks head to Canadian Rockies to recharge following Game 3 loss to Calgary
When Francois Beauchemin woke up this morning, he wasn't in Calgary anymore. And he wasn't exactly clicking his heels to go back.
"I woke up this morning, opened the curtains and I had a beautiful view of the river and the mountains," the Anaheim Ducks' defenseman said. "Went down for a little walk by the waterfalls, by the river and saw five deers crossing my path. It was a good time. On the way here, a grizzly bear crossed the road. I love this kind of wildlife."
Deer and grizzly bears? No, the Ducks are no longer in the city.
After Anaheim's Game 3 loss to Calgary on Tuesday night, they packed up and headed out of town, finding themselves in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, in Banff, Alberta, about 90 minutes outside of Calgary.
While this idea was in place before the loss, it quickly proved to be a remedy for moving on from what was arguably Anaheim's worst postseason performance yet. The town nestled between a trio of mountains right on the Bow River is picturesque, snowy and most importantly quiet.
"The beauty and the surroundings for people that have never been to this area, it's quite amazing," said Ducks' coach Bruce Boudreau. "It's a good way to get away for a day and relax in really a stressful situation. Playoffs are a stressful situation for everybody. If you can do this, and get some guys not going on the ice and having a good practice tomorrow, I think when we get back we'll be hungry again."
Wednesday's practice was optional, and even those who didn't skate participated in some form with the team. It's clear the loss already has been put to bed, and Banff is allowing for some bonding.
"Getting away from the city and coming up here, it's beautiful," said center Ryan Kesler. "All the boys were out front (of the rink) playing soccer today. We're a loose bunch, which is key. You can't just sulk. We've got to get back. This is a rest day for some guys to just mentally get away from the game."
The plan was devised by hockey operations after the NHL announced the schedule for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Ducks already have had several extra days of downtime and wanted to make sure that more didn't make the team stale.
Not to mention, a hockey-mad city like Calgary can be difficult for an NHL team. Unlike in Orange County, NHL players are TMZ-worthy superstars. Everyone wants an autograph, a picture or a prediction on the series. Captain Ryan Getzlaf said he already had a few fans yelling at him and they've only been in Calgary for two days.
Sequestered in the mountains, the Ducks can relax. The grizzly bears aren't exactly clamoring for autographs.
"The city of Calgary is a tough city to be in when you're in a playoff run," Getzlaf said. "That city really gets behind their team. There's a lot going on, whether it'd be at the hotel or around the hotel. Those kind of things. Sometimes it's nice to just step away and not have to deal with people yelling in your face, those kind of things when you're trying to walk down the street."
As for their concern over Game 3 and whether it not it gave the Flames new life? There is no concern, they say. Up here in Banff, there's not too much to be concerned about.
"After last night's game, I think it's good timing," Beauchemin said. "Our game slipped away a little bit last night. We weren't as sharp as we were the first six games of the playoffs. That even started in Game 2 at home. We played well in the first half of the game and the second half, they came at us. We got away from our game plan of going in on the forecheck and being aggressive. Hopefully those couple of days will help us getting refocused and make sure we're ready for Game 4"