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Blunt talk follows Ducks' loss to Wild

Goaltender Jonas Hiller says the team's play on defense has been 'too cute,' and Coach Bruce Boudreau says the team needs to find a new mind-set.

December 04, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner sends Ducks center Saku Koivu flying along the boards as they battle for the puck in the second period Sunday at Honda Center.
Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner sends Ducks center Saku Koivu flying along… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

The toughest, bluntest postgame words did not come from the captain (Ryan Getzlaf) or the revered veteran (Teemu Selanne).

Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller … unplugged.

Hiller unloaded — or should that be unburdened? — after the Ducks squandered a two-goal lead, drifted through an aimless second period and showed up for the third. It added up to a 5-3 win by the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night at Honda Center.

Scoring for the Ducks were Getzlaf, Saku Koivu and defenseman Cam Fowler. But the leading-leading Wild has rallied from two goals down in its last three road games, the first team to do so since the Buffalo Sabres in 2006.

The Ducks have won once in their last 10 games, and that happened to be the night Randy Carlyle was fired as their coach. They have not won in their first two games under new Coach Bruce Boudreau.

Hiller sharply dissected the Ducks, point by point.

"I don't think we're playing really solid in our own end," he said. "I think that's where you can see why we're not winning. Those guys always seem to get inside, to kind of walk through two guys and suddenly get a two-on-one out of nothing. Even though we have guys back. It seems like we're just too cute."

Cuteness, apparently, is contagious. Hiller listed about seven ways the Ducks are failing.

"It looks like we are there but not really there," he said. "Physically there, but probably mentally we are already in the other zone or still in the dressing room. I don't know what. To me it looks like we get so many errors.

"Suddenly, guys are all by themselves in the slot out of a nothing play and suddenly two guys chasing one guy. We're playing here in the NHL, and I don't think it should happen."

This was not something Boudreau had to worry about a week ago. Last Sunday, he was employed by the Washington Capitals. He was fired in a phone call at 6:30 the next morning.

He has moved from one crisis to one on another coast. At least this crisis point has better weather.

"We have nothing to lose," Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa said. "We're at rock bottom right now. You've got to play with confidence and look forward and not look back."

It was not a great sightline Sunday.

Boudreau did not like what he was seeing after the Wild's second goal, and when Minnesota scored its third goal and took a 3-2 lead in the second period, a mere 32 seconds later, he called a timeout

"I said, 'Don't hang your head. You look like you're a beaten crew,'" Boudreau said of his message. "If you can't face a little adversity in sport or in hockey, you're not going to get anywhere.

"Pull up your socks and get mad rather than feel sorry for yourselves. When they got the second goal, it looked like, 'Oh, they tied us. We're not going to be successful now.' When they got the third goal, 'Oh, woe is us.' We've got to get that mind-set out of them right away. …

"We've got to be able to say, 'Damn it, let's go get it back.'"

Boudreau was willing to make adjustments on the fly. The timeout stopped the onslaught, at least temporarily, and the Ducks tied the score in the third period on Fowler's goal, which deflected off Wild defenseman Marco Scandella's skate.

Boudreau pulled more out of Bobby Ryan, shifting him to a line with the two Finns, Koivu and Selanne, and moved Matt Beleskey to the Getzlaf line in the third period.

"It worked better," Boudreau said. "I thought it balanced the lines out. The first line, if you want to call Getzlaf's line the first line, didn't seem like they were generating anything. We needed somebody to get in there to get in the corners and generate something."

Two games and four days with the Ducks players have yielded a painfully obvious truth. Sbisa thought the last complete game the Ducks played was against the San Jose Sharks in the second week of the season.

"There's a lot of work to be done, let's face it," Boudreau said.

One of the major tasks: putting the Ducks' broken psyche back together.

"I think we felt a little bit sorry for ourselves," Boudreau said. "It took some soul-searching in between periods here, and I think we played a solid third period. But a) too little too late, and b) if you want to be successful in this league, that is how you have to play for 60 minutes."

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