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Rumblings: Ducks respond to GM's challenge

Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have Anaheim looking in the right direction after a terrible start to the season. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It might have been because it was published on Dec. 23, right before the NHL's holiday break, but Eric Stephens' story in the Orange County Register on the Anaheim Ducks should have received more attention than it did around the league.

For starters, it was a hard-hitting take on a preseason Cup contender that, at the time, was in last place in the Pacific Division.

But what I really took from it was how general manager Bob Murray, who first criticized himself in the piece for some of his offseason moves, also took a healthy swipe at his core, longtime players for not being in good enough shape at the start of the season. You don't see that every day, to be sure.

Whether or not Murray's comments had an impact in his dressing room, it just so happens that the Ducks since that story was published have earned nine out of a possible 10 points.

They've done so by playing more of a stifling, defensive game. It's not the Ducks' normal offensive game of the past few seasons, but Anaheim will take it no matter how it comes at this point.

"They've bought in to a style of hockey that's not normal for us, but they've bought in, and, if it continues, good things could happen," Murray said Tuesday by phone from Anaheim. "But they have to all buy in. They all have to be on the same page, top to bottom."

The Ducks are back in the playoff mix mostly because the Pacific Division is a dog's breakfast this season. And that's probably why Murray, I believe, didn't make any drastic moves through a nightmare first half of the season. His team was never out of it.

Ultimately, a team that has always cakewalked through the regular season the past few years might actually benefit from this adversity if it makes the postseason. The adversity might make these Ducks dangerous animals to face come springtime.

"It could be very beneficial," Murray said, "but a long way to go here."