Anaheim Ducks: Winning and Losing Back-to-Back

SKCorrespondent IDecember 24, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 23:  Goaltender Jonas Hiller #1 and Saku Koivu #11 of the Anaheim Ducks react after allowing a first period goal to Scottie Upshall (not pictured) of the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on December 23, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The range of emotions resulting in the back-to-back games for the Ducks would make anyone feel bi-polar. 

After overcoming a two-goal deficit on Tuesday night to the surging Colorado Avalanche, it seemed as though the Ducks had figured out the key to success. 



Relentless forchecking!   

Playing a physical and dominating game against a young, agile Colorado team and finding a way to come from behind to win can potentially do wonders for a group often struggling to do the little things right.

Of course, it should be noted that the Ducks dominated a tired Colorado team who battled with Minnesota the night before, but a win is a win, and the Ducks are desperate for points. 

However, after watching the Ducks lose to the Pacific Division rival Phoenix Coyotes in a miserable attempt on Wednesday night, it is also possible the Ducks suffer from short-term memory loss.   

Or perhaps they, too, experienced the same fatigue having played twice in 24 hours. 

No matter the reason, a very obvious lesson was learned.

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The Ducks can win games.  They can beat any team they wish.  They just have to work for it, want it more than the other guys, and play a physically persistent game accordingly. 

That's obvious, right?  It's not too much to ask, is it?

Apparently it is. 

The Ducks need to find a way to overcome the back-to-back fatigue if they plan on adding to the win column.  In the month of January, they will find themselves playing four more sets of back-to-back matchups.  The second night of those battles has them visiting Chicago twice, Los Angeles, and Washington

Another lesson that Randy Carlyle might want to keep in mind is that putting the same goaltender in the game on back-to-back nights might not be beneficial to the team's success.  True, Jonas Hiller faced a limited 17 shots against Colorado on Tuesday night, but the emotional and physical strain is still a factor. 

With both Hiller and J.S. Giguere currently playing well between the pipes, the team would have benefited from fresh legs on the ice Wednesday night against the Coyotes. 

While goaltending was definitely an issue in Phoenix, fatigue and emotional dissonance were the biggest factors plaguing the Ducks.  While fatigue can often be understandable, not being mentally prepared or disciplined for a game is never excusable.  The 4-0 shutout was the painful result because of that. 

Likewise, multiple failed power play opportunities and missed scoring chances don't help a losing effort either.  A goaltender can only do so much for a team; scoring goals and deflating the opposition's momentum are up to the rest of the men on the ice.

The Ducks have two days off, as does the rest of the NHL, to find that emotional boost and the winning mentality that pushed them to come back against Colorado.  On Saturday they head to San Jose to face the Sharks, who have shown very little sympathy to the Ducks in their previous meetings this season. 

Having struggled greatly against Pacific Division teams this season hasn't helped the Ducks find their way out of the basement in the Western Conference. 

Now would be a great time for that long-term memory of winning to kick in.


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