Rest has Ducks wide awake in major move toward playoffs

ANAHEIM – Rest didn’t become rust for the Ducks after their bye week. Rest, in fact, was best.

Five full days away from hockey was exactly what the schedule-maker ordered for the Ducks, who’ve taken that break and run with it in March right to the top of the Pacific Division. They’ve gone 9-2-1 since getting back on the ice to beat Toronto.

Even Coach Randy Carlyle conceded what has become obvious. Taking the cue of rejuvenated captain Ryan Getzlaf, the energized Ducks have followed the center’s lead in putting together their best stretch of hockey.

“You can’t ignore the fact that rest is required,” Carlyle said. “So it has brought some life to our group.”

The timing of their break might have been ideal. The Ducks were the last team to get theirs and they heartily welcomed it after a taxing schedule further condensed this season by the World Cup of Hockey that made for more games on back-to-back nights and blocks of three in four.

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa, however, pointed out a silver lining. He liked how their schedule was broken into segments Carlyle has often referred to, in which they had a stretch of games from Christmas to the All-Star break at the end of January and then another until the end of February.

Bieksa snickered when he thought back to the struggles teams had coming off their bye weeks, with the majority of them losing their first game. It was enough to be a regular topic for “critics and skeptics” as he referenced.

“Right away, I thought, who cares about the first game?” he said. “Obviously you care about the first game but really the purpose of the bye week is to rest guys and let the bumps and bruises heal so that the bumps and bruises don’t’ turn into worse injuries down the stretch.

“We got some good rest during that week and we came back. And we were fortunate enough to win the first game. All the rest that we got and allowing those nagging injuries to heal is paying off now because you…

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