The Anaheim Ducks come into Washington looking like a wounded team.
At 11 points in 11 games, they’re cellar-dwellers in the Pacific Division. And after a 1-2-1 start to a season-worst seven-game road trip, they might be a little fatigued.
They face the Capitals at Verizon Center on Tuesday night coming off a loss to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets and desperate to turn the young season around.
“Things haven’t been going quite as well for us on this trip, but we’re trying to just work our way out of it,” defenseman Sheldon Brookbank said. “Right now we’re losing, but we didn’t feel we played that terrible the last game. We’re just trying to work our way out of it.”
Anaheim has been on the road since Oct. 25 when they opened at the Chicago Blackhawks (3-2 shutout loss). They then traveled to face the Minnesota Wild on Thursday (3-2 win), the Nashville Predators on Saturday (3-0 loss) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (3-1 loss) on Sunday before arriving in the District on Monday.
“We definitely have to step it up,” goaltender Jonas Hiller said. “The whole team does, and everybody knows we can play better than we did.”
That’s a lot of miles for a team that began the year with two games in Europe – against the Buffalo Sabres in Finland and against the New York Rangers in Stockholm.
And while it would seem a grueling seven-games-in-13-days stretch like the one the Ducks are in right now would make it harder to get on track, several players said the opposite was true.
“We’re together for 13 days and seven games. To start on the road – we started in Finland and we get this two-week road trip – I think the guys are going to come together that much quicker,” reigning league MVP Corey Perry said. “ It might not be what we’ve planned and what we’ve wanted the last couple games. But I think we’re going to work through it.”
The quicker the Ducks start winning, the less likely they’ll need a furious run from Perry to make the playoffs as they did last year. But no matter what, he thinks this adversity – and tunneling out of it – will pay dividends later.
“I think a trip like this is going to help us down the road,” he said.