Elgin St. wings, prayer for Ducks

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

If you are what you eat, the Anaheim Ducks will have wings tonight.

They did Wednesday, at MacLaren's on Elgin St.

The Ducks hit the sports bar for a group outing, chowing down on wings and pizza -- "the good grease," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle called it yesterday -- and playing a pool tournament as part of those popular outings NHL teams like to justify as "team bonding," but what we here in the newspaper business call "every Tuesday night at the Clock Tower."

You can't blame the Ducks for turning to comfort food. They are off to a rough start -- much like your hometown heroes -- and are looking for something to get them going.

Hey, if you're in the fire ... deep-fry something, right?

Forward Ryan Getzlaf picked a bad time to have a root canal, which kept him out of Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs (he said he'll be back at it tonight) and from digging in Wednesday.

HOLE IN TOOTH

"I couldn't eat wings. I've got a hole in my tooth right now. It would be a little tough to be gnawing down wings," he said.

Would he have been going hard to the plate if healthy?

"Oh, probably. I love wings."

Did veteran Teemu Selanne dig in?

"Just a few," said the Finnish Flash. "When you get older, you've got to be smarter about what you eat, your rest, what you drink. The recovery time is way longer than it used to be."

The man with 553 career goals knows his way around a pool table, too, teaming with partner Brad May to split the pot with Todd Marchant and Brendan Morrison.

Time on Elgin St. has solved the ills of more than one group of guys (or created more, in some cases) and the Ducks have a history of catching the karma train here in Ottawa.

In January 2006, they rolled into town with a 19-16-9 record, played some shinny on the Rideau Canal, won in a shootout over the Senators the next night and wrapped up their season 24-11-3 down the stretch. In 2007 ... well, you know what happened when they came to Ottawa then.

As Carlyle pointed out, that was then and this is now and now isn't good. The 2007 Stanley Cup champs find themselves tied for last place in the Western Conference, but riding a one-game winning streak, sort of.

They got a win over the Leafs (insert gratuitous Leafs joke here, like: "Does that really count?") in which:

a) the Ducks managed exactly zero shots in the third period;

b) benefited from Leafs coach Ron Wilson wanting to prove how smart he is; and

c) found out the loudest noise in the ACC when the Leafs lose like that is the creaking of Curtis Joseph's 41-year-old groin.

The Ducks aren't about to look down their beaks at any win right now. Close your eyes when Carlyle is speaking and you could be listening to Senators coach Craig Hartsburg.

"We're nowhere near the level that's going to be required to have success on a long-term basis," said Carlyle.

"We have not played to the level we feel we're capable of and we're going to push and strive to get this group to do that. It's to a point now where we're going to play game eight of the season. We're getting close to 10% of the schedule and we've got four points out a possible 14. That's nowhere near enough for this group.

"Maybe we're thinking too much about the past and not thinking how we can change the present and how we can develop more a stronger work ethic and a stronger focus that's required. We're two years removed from (winning the Cup). That's history."

The Ducks' big problem has been finding the net. They're tied for last in the Western Conference in large part because they've scored just 16 goals in seven games, the 28th-worst offence in the league going into last night's games.

"It's unbelievable. I've never seen this before," said Selanne. "We've hit the post, the puck is bouncing all over, we just can't bury it. It's one of those things. I've always said goal scoring is a magic thing.

"You hit the post, you have great chances and you just can't buy a goal. Then there's nights you just throw the puck at the net and it goes in, or it'll hit your ass and go in. Those are the kind of breaks we need. You don't want to start pushing and forcing. I don't believe it's going to come like that."

But they do have their Ottawa karma going for them ... maybe.

"I'm glad you brought that up," said Selanne. "It makes me feel better."


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