The Ducks' franchise-best 3-0-1 start has upheld their high expectations but has also come against teams of players who were swinging golf clubs instead of hockey sticks in April.
The Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders all watched the postseason.
The Ducks will find out if there's any shelf life to their opening act this week, beginning tonight against the Dallas Stars, who won six of the eight meetings between these teams last season.
After that, the Detroit Red Wings come in Wednesday, followed by the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Minnesota, with new acquisitions Pavol Demitra, Mark Parrish and Kim Johnsson, is off to a 5-0-0 start.
"It's something you can measure yourself against," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. "We consider ourselves one of the better teams in the league. We need to push for that every night. The top teams are always going to be there."
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said it is important to start well against the defending Pacific Division champions. Dallas has topped 100 points in seven of the last nine seasons.
"We want to try to change this around and have the upper hand against them," Giguere said. "Try to have more confidence when we go against them. You've got to do that right off the bat."
Rookie Ryan Shannon effectively took the job that was expected to go to Stanislav Chistov in training camp, but he has yet to score his first NHL point and is a minus-2 after four games.
Shannon is still averaging nearly 12 minutes a game -- more than Getzlaf and Corey Perry -- and Coach Randy Carlyle said the diminutive forward doesn't look out of place.
"Well, you want a player to score," Carlyle said. "But is it life and death [in terms of] his playing time? I appreciate some of the things that players do that are not just on the offensive side.
"There's a responsibility to be first on the backcheck and first on the forecheck when it's your turn. All those things are things that are staples of our group, and I don't see him straying away from that."
vs. Dallas, 5 p.m., Ch. 56
Site -- Honda Center.
Radio -- 830.
Records -- Ducks 3-0-1; Stars 4-0-0.
Record vs. Stars (2005-06) -- 2-5-1.
Update -- Captain Scott Niedermayer returned to practice Saturday after missing Friday because of family reasons. Niedermayer will be in tonight's lineup.
Tickets -- (877) 945-3946.