In your typical seven-game playoff series, any little edge can mean the difference between moving on or starting an early summer. With that in mind, the Ducks are hoping the home ice advantage they swiped at the last instant for this series will prove critical.
|“Now that we’re there, we have to take advantage of our home ice,” Getzlaf said. “We worked hard to get that and have to make sure we’re ready on Wednesday. We’re in the playoffs now. It’s a seven-game series. It’s going to be a long one. We’re prepared for that.” |
In a season when they seemingly never had full cooperation from other teams around the league when they needed it, the Ducks had everything go right last Saturday. They watched as Nashville lost at St. Louis, were playing when San Jose beat Phoenix and ultimately defeated the rival Kings at Staples Center. That turn of events propelled Anaheim from seventh to fourth in the final Western Conference standings.
Not only does that grant Anaheim the opportunity of opening and playing more games in the friendly confines of Honda Center, but it also all the club the chance to have the last line change courtesy of rule 82.1 in the NHL Handbook. With one of the best forward lines in hockey (Corey Perry
, Ryan Getzlaf
, Bobby Ryan
) on one side and one of the premier defensive tandems (Shea Weber, Ryan Suter) on the other, getting to choose the matchup could be key.
“With those two guys on the back end, we’ll be able to get away from them with that last change,” said Bobby Ryan
, who finished tied for eighth in the league with 34 goals in the regular season. “Being able to control the fate in four out of the seven games is a huge thing. Ducks comments after Tueday's practice
“That being said, we’re comfortable playing here. Hopefully, we can go into their barn, get some wins and it doesn’t go that long. But that is always wishful thinking. They are a good team.”
This is Anaheim’s eighth trip to the postseason in its history and 18th playoff series over that timeframe. The Ducks won best-of-seven sets in 11 of those previous cases, thanks in large part to a 31-16 record at Honda Center. But the Ducks have been on both sides of the spectrum to know that home-ice advantage will only take you so far.
In 2009, the Ducks were an eight seed and took the first two games at top-seed San Jose en route to a series victory. Anaheim was a four seed the previous year and followed the same script of the Sharks, dropping the first two at home to Dallas before falling in six games of the quarterfinals.
In the regular season, the Ducks were very good at home, going 26-13-2 (second-best in the Western Conference).
|“With those two guys on the back end, we’ll be able to get away from them with that last change,” Ryan said. “Being able to control the fate in four out of the seven games is a huge thing." |
“Now that we’re there, we have to take advantage of our home ice,” said Ryan Getzlaf
. “We worked hard to get that and have to make sure we’re ready on Wednesday. We’re in the playoffs now. It’s a seven-game series. It’s going to be a long one. We’re prepared for that.”
Setting the tone with a strong start is something both teams would sorely like to do in tomorrow’s Game 1. This season, when Anaheim scored first, it had a .739 winning percentage (34-10-2 record, seventh in the league) and a .893 success rate (25-3-0 record) when leading after one period.
“The key to our success is our forechecking,” said 50-goal scorer Corey Perry
. “If we play our style of game, make them turn and go get the puck, it’s going to be better off for us. We have to wear them down. It’s just a matter of doing what we have been doing all year.
Said Ryan, “We’re excited about this run, the way we finished and the way we peaked down the stretch. We certainly hope it translates. It’s going to be a fun a series. It’s nice that we’re able to open at home.”Notes
Ray Emery (lower body injury) returned to practice on Tuesday and was one of three goaltenders on the ice for the team. Carlyle had this to say about him afterward, “That has been the plan was today to make sure he skated with us. He warmed up earlier and took shots. I haven’t seen the trainer yet. In all likelihood, he will be available to us tomorrow.”Francois Beauchemin
also took part in Tuesday’s drills too after missing Monday’s session following the effects of taking a shot on Saturday against the Kings. “When you have bumps and bruises, you want to make sure that you take every precaution that you possibly can because we need all these people available to us,” Carlyle said.