ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks have a familiar lineup; they have their guys who have been here a while, from Ryan Getzlaf to Corey Perry to Francois Beauchemin.
Still, there seems to be a different mindset this season, as far as coach Bruce Boudreau can see.
“Determined is a better word than any I could use,” Boudreau said following Saturday’s practice. “They seem — and I don’t want to take anything away from last year’s [team] or the year before or the individuals still here — but they seem a more determined group.”
It’s an attitude any team needs to have to reach this level and to get past it. The Blackhawks have had it — well, and the talent — for a while now, hence two Stanley Cups since 2010 and three consecutive Western Conference Final appearances. The Ducks certainly have the talent. And if they do have that determination that Boudreau hasn’t seen previously, this could make for one tantalizing series.
The Ducks come with a strong roster, one that added Ryan Kesler this offseason to bolster their center group. The Ducks tied St. Louis for the best record in the West (51-24-7), swept the Winnipeg Jets and then beat the Calgary Flames in five games. The Ducks are back in the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2007. That year, they won the Stanley Cup. Getting back to this point is a big step for a Ducks team that felt it fell short in previous seasons.
“It’s huge,” said Perry, who was part of that 2007 Cup team. “For us to get over that hump that we’ve been looking to get over and finally reach it, there are only four teams left. That’s the exciting part.”
The Ducks had an extended break themselves following their series vs. the Flames. They had a physical practice on Saturday, and players talked about the structure they’ve had, especially this past week.
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“It’s been good. We’ve had our buildup, an approach almost like a football team where you have Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3, and you work on different things every day in preparation,” Getzlaf said. “We had our tough practice three days ago and the last two have been structural. We’re prepared. Everyone knows their role and everyone knows what they’re doing. Now we just have to play.”
The Ducks have enough players who have been here before. There also seems to be a new attitude or, as Boudreau says, a “determined” outlook. Now they’ll see if that, along with the talent, gets them over the hump.
“We’ve practiced a lot and they’ve been hard. These guys haven’t complained. They’ve embraced the practices,” Boudreau said. “There are a lot of the guys who are the same but after the last two years they’ve shown stronger fortitude when it’s come to the playoffs. The mindset has been tougher.”