ANAHEIM -- Players typically forget about losses within minutes of stepping off the ice, or at least that's what they say publicly. The term "short memory" is tossed out a lot when it comes to turning the page.
That's not true for the Anaheim Ducks.
Since their Game 7 meltdown against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals last season, Anaheim has literally worn the loss on their chests in the form of "Unfinished Business" T-shirts. Some of them wore the shirts Thursday in preparation for Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"I think the guys in this room have used Game 7 against Detroit, and the entire series against Detroit, as a teaching point this entire year," Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "We know we did not play our best against them. We wanted to prove to ourselves and prove to the rest of the League that that was a fluke, and we have another opportunity to do that tomorrow night."
Anaheim failed spectacularly to seize the moment against Detroit. It allowed the go-ahead goal shorthanded in a 3-2 loss. The Ducks lost three of the final four games of the series after finishing with the NHL's third-best record.
Lovejoy and Andrew Cogliano are accurate barometers of Anaheim's dressing room, and Cogliano knows what went wrong in the loss to Detroit.
"I think last year guys were nervous," Cogliano said. "I can speak for myself; it was my first Game 7, and it's tough to know what to expect your first time. But I can say for myself and a lot of guys in this room: There's no point being nervous now. We've laid it on the line all series. We came back from 2-0 and the bottom line is, we know that when we're successful, we're going for it. You can see when we sit back, we get dominated."
Coach Bruce Boudreau said the Ducks "never felt we were as good as Detroit" and that it became a mental obstacle after the Red Wings won three overtime games. He expects the Ducks to learn from that experience and use it in what shapes up to be a thrilling finale of the first Freeway Series.
While the Ducks are carrying motivation from last season, the Kings bring mystique from the 2012 Stanley Cup run. Los Angeles made the conference final last year despite significant injuries and this season erased a 3-0 series deficit in the first round against the San Jose Sharks. If the Kings advance to their third straight Western Conference Final, it would be their 10th Stanley Cup Playoff series in three seasons.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after Game 6 that Los Angeles was the underdog; Boudreau, who usually shrugs off Sutter's conjecture, jumped all over that concept Thursday.
"Like you guys write that stuff?" Boudreau said to reporters. "You can ask anybody here [media] who they think the underdog is, and the underdog is us. They've already went through five Game 7s in the playoffs already. They've been there. They've won the Stanley Cup. I thought it was pretty funny when Darryl said that, and he actually said it with a straight face. I don't know who he's trying to buffalo, but it sure isn't us."
This is the second time that Boudreau will play a Game 7 with a trip to the conference final on the line. His Washington Capitals lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Boudreau has lost his past three Game 7s and four of five during his coaching career.
"My Game 7 record wouldn't indicate that I've learned anything," Boudreau said with a smile. "But I tend to believe that I have and take different approaches. A couple of things that were done last year, I've already addressed that hopefully won't happen this year. You learn by experience."
Asked if he's due to win a Game 7, Boudreau said, "I am due. I think I'm 1-4 right now. So I'm due, because we lost all four at home."
One aspect that Boudreau would like to change is to squeeze more from forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Getzlaf was held without a point for the first time in the series in Game 6. Perry, who didn't score a goal in the Detroit series, has one goal in this series.
Getzlaf knew how to keep it loose on the off day. He drew laughs when he playfully stood with reporters during Lovejoy's media session. He later offered up an anecdote on the attention that's ramped up locally with Game 7.
"I saw the other night, a couple walking on the street," he said. "And one had a Ducks jersey and one had a Kings jersey. It's fun. Those are great things for us [to see]."
Did the couple recognize him?
"I was hiding," Getzlaf said jokingly.
Lovejoy summed up what a Game 7 means to the area.
"We love being a part of the Ducks," he said. "We love being a part of Orange County. We love where we live. And I think that we've been incredibly blessed with the passion that has come out all season, especially of late. You can really see how proud people are in this area of this team. We would like to continue that against our archrival as a team, and Orange County's rival as a team."