NASHVILLE – Corey Perry found himself stuck at home for a long time at the start of the 2014-15 NHL season.
In early November, he started coming down with an illness. At first it was a mystery, then it was revealed as the mumps, and he had to stay isolated from his teammates.
Then shortly after he got back, he suffered a knee injury and he was shelved again. Perry left Anaheim’s two-week roadtrip and had to spend time with his thoughts in Southern California.
“It’s hard. Especially with the illness you can’t be around the rink and around the guys and spending your 10 days at home,” Perry said. “When I came back it was a breath of fresh air, and then the injury and then guys were on the road for 10 days and I’m stuck at home again by myself. It was tough but at the same time, you’re a professional. You stay ready and you keep pushing.”
Stranded in Orange County near Disneyland? That sounds like a vacation for some. But not if you’re an NHL mega star who is being compensated handsomely to score goals.
Perry has been injured before. In 2007-08 he missed 15 games with a right quad tendon laceration per TSN’s injury tracker. Hockey is a rough game, and issues like this arise. But few like Perry’s 2014-15 year, which at the beginning seemed Hart Trophy-like promising.
“It was a tough two months that’s for sure,” Perry said. “Going through the illness and then the injury it takes time to get back into game shape and the speed of the game. I’m not going to make any excuses, but you have to push through it and be mentally ready.”
Through it all, Perry’s points per game are about the same as usual for the 29-year-old sniper. He’s at 0.97 for those and 0.59 for goals per-game. Compared to a year ago he had 0.53 goals per-game and 1.01 points per-game.
But it has been a tale of two seasons for Perry. You had the hot start, then the problems, and then the struggle to get back into game shape – still an ongoing issue.
Only now does he feel like he’s close to where he was before. As long as the Disneyland measles outbreak doesn’t hit the Ducks and Perry, they’re all good. But he has been vaccinated again – though with his luck this year who knows. Sounds like he didn’t go there during his injury problems.
“I’m starting to get the legs back underneath me,” he said.
Perry started the year on a torrid pace. He notched nine goals and 12 points in his first eight games and 15 points in his first 13 contests overall. And then after Nov. 2, the mumps hit (that still sounds strange, funny, weird, surreal and awful all at the same time).
He missed five games, and though he said he didn’t lose any weight during the problem he clearly was affected when he returned by a combination of the time off and the sickness. Perry notched two points in his first six games back.
He then had a three-point night and a two-assist game in four contests leading up to his knee injury at Winnipeg on Dec. 7. When he came back he had just two points in his first five games.
“You see him struggle but a struggle for him is like three games without a goal,” forward Matt Beleskey said. “I wouldn’t classify it as a struggling season. I think he has worked hard to get back and he has battled through a lot.”
And once Perry found his footing, he started scoring again for the NHL-leading Ducks. He picked up a hat trick against Toronto on Jan. 14, which began a stretch where he’s had 12 points in his last nine contests.
He’s not quite to where he was at the start of the year, but he’s close. And with Ryan Getzlaf having missed Thursday’s win against Nashville with a lower body problem, the Ducks may need Perry (who scored an empty netter in the contest) to carry them without their captain the way Getzlaf did sans Perry.
“When he’s scoring goals our team is usually winning,” said forward Ryan Kesler, in a massive understatement. “So he got back on the wagon again (against Nashville) and hopefully he can keep doing that for us. “
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