VANCOUVER – The Anaheim Ducks are resting for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Vancouver Canucks are still trying to find chemistry before they start.
The Ducks will be without seven regulars when they play here Thursday, though initial plans to include captain Ryan Getzlaf among those resting may be scuttled with fellow center Nick Bonino not feeling well.
“We don't know yet, probably won’t know until game time,” Getzlaf said after the morning skate. “Either way, I’m kind of impartial to the whole thing. Sometimes its almost better to keep going as it is to rest, but the last couple of days have been good rest because I’ve been off both, so if I do play tonight it will be fine.”
With or without Getzlaf, the Ducks won’t resemble the team that clinched the Pacific Division on Monday night with a win against the Edmonton Oilers.
Veteran forwards Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Radek Dvorak will get a break, along with defenseman Bryan Allen. The Ducks also will be without injured forward Bobby Ryan and defenseman Luca Sbisa, relying on an airlift of players from their American Hockey League affiliate to round out the roster.
“If we could have clinched the division earlier we would have rested guys earlier but we didn’t,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I expect the other guys to be just as good as the guys sitting out. I tell them that and believe it or not that is my expectation. Whoever puts that sweater on, this is an opportunity for them. If they want a chance to play in the playoffs they have to show something now. We’re not playing a junior team. We’re playing the Vancouver Canucks. They know if they don't play the best game they can it's not going to be pretty for us.”
While the Ducks rest top players, the Canucks are looking to improve on the chemistry of theirs, playing a new-look loaded-up second line with Chris Higgins, Derek Roy and Ryan Kesler for a second straight game.
Vancouver will experiment as well, giving defenseman Derek Joslin his first game of the season and using defenseman Keith Ballard, who missed the past two games with a minor back injury, as a forward on the fourth line. Having an extra defenseman in the lineup may be an option as they wait for two regulars, Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa, who both skated Thursday, to return from injury.
“I see a lot of options but it is something we might be inclined to look at just because of the health of our defense,” coach Alain Vigneault said of using Ballard up front, something he did earlier this season amid a slew of forward injuries. “If we have a defenseman that can play up front and be effective and then if we ever need him on D it’s something we might look at just to protect ourselves.”
For Kesler, playing right wing for the first time in years, the last two games are an opportunity to build chemistry with Roy and Higgins after they combined for several great scoring chances in a 3-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
“Last game was one of our best offensive games,” Kesler said. “It really gives us a different look where we can go with three lines or two stacked lines.”
Here’s how the rest of the lines could look when the Canucks play the Ducks on Thursday night at Rogers Arena, though given Anaheim’s roster it could change:
Notes: Dvorak will play his 1,200th NHL game in the season finale on Saturday in Anaheim against the Phoenix Coyotes. “I just told him not to get in a car accident or anything stupid,” Boudreau said of giving the veteran Thursday’s game off to delay the milestone for a home game. … Souray returns after missing two games. ... Anderson, Maroon and Smith-Pelly were all recalled from the American Hockey League on Wednesday.
Notes: Tanev, who has missed eight games, skated briefly on his own Thursday and is further away from returning than Bieksa, who stayed out long after most in the optional morning skate and is optimistic he’ll be ready for the start of the playoffs. … Cannata was called up from the AHL and will back up Luongo because Schneider is out with an injury the team says is not serious.
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