ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks will embrace the spoiler role as they can affect the race with remaining games against San Jose, Phoenix, Vancouver and Calgary. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is using that to light a fire.
"We know it's definitely not a good-looking situation as far as continuing playing too much in April, but we're playing at home, we've got a chance to derail a little bit of San Jose's opportunities, so we'd love to be able to do that," Boudreau said. "It's motivation for us."
Said Teemu Selanne, "We still have to do our job. Obviously, every team that wants to make the playoffs has to earn it. That's how it goes."
Boudreau said he has an obligation to field his best lineup, although he said Jonas Hiller won't play all six remaining games. Anaheim re-assigned young winger Kyle Palmieri so he can help the Syracuse Crunch secure a playoff berth. Another prospect, Emerson Etem, the WHL's first 60-goal scorer since 2000-01, is helping Medicine Hat in the quarterfinals and there is not an urgency to recall him before the season ends.
As far as his approach down the stretch, Boudreau acknowledged that, "This is new territory for me, quite frankly. I've never been out of it at this stage. But as far as development goes, we won't change the way we play. We might put guys in different situations that they haven't been in before, maybe do a little experimentation in that regard."
Ellis closer: Dan Ellis has been practicing with Anaheim for a few days in his comeback from sports hernia surgery on March 2.
"I've always looked at that last week of the regular season in order to make it back," Ellis said. "I think, given our schedule, this week we've only got two games so it gives you a few practice opportunities -- some time to really push it and see where your body is at. I think I can push it as hard as possible and see where I am at the end of the week."
It would be a personal achievement for Ellis to return. He suffered a tear in his groin in practice on Jan. 7, a freak injury in which he said "the groin comes completely off the bone and you get an ab tear with it."
Ellis has appeared in only 10 games this season and won once.
"It would be nice to finish the season on a good note," he said. "The season didn't quite go the way I would have planned it. But you take it as a challenge to push through. You set some goals for yourself, and you always want to end on a good note."
Here's the projected lineup for the Ducks:
Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Bobby Ryan - Nick Bonino - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jason Blake - Rod Pelley - Matt Beleskey
Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Luca Sbisa
Sheldon Brookbank - Toni Lydman