By Kyle Shohara
With the Ducks down 1-0 in their First Round series with Nashville, tonight’s Game 2 may not be a must-win game for Anaheim, but it sure feels like it. Following tonight’s contest, the series will shift to Bridgestone Arena for Games 3 and 4 where the Predators went 23-11-7 during the regular season.
“We know they can skate, but we didn’t think we skated well,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau of his team’s 3-2 loss in the series opener Friday night. “We got out-skated a bit. That’s where we have to be better. It all comes down to winning one-on-one battles and out-working the opposition. Those things, I don’t think we did.”
Anaheim’s morning skate revealed several things. First, it appears either Korbinian Holzer or Kevin Bieksa could draw into the lineup for Josh Manson, who left Game 1 at the end of the first period with what Boudreau called a “head and upper-body injury.” Holzer was one of six defensemen on the ice for the morning skate, which included Simon Despres, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen. For what it’s worth, Boudreau labeled Bieksa, who has missed time with an upper-body injury, as “100 percent.”
With the playoffs come injuries, and Bieksa - if called upon – will be a physical, veteran presence on the backend. The 34-year-old has appeared in 71 Stanley Cup Playoff games in his career (all with the Vancouver Canucks), including a 25-game run that ultimately ended in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
Manson’s absence is a big one, since he and 22-year-old Lindholm were a formidable presence on the blueline for Anaheim, and, in some eyes, the team’s shutdown d-pairing.
John Gibson will start for Anaheim, as he did in Game 1. “He knows I have faith in him,” said Boudreau, who went on to say his goaltenders often respond with quality outings the game following a loss. Pekka Rinne is expected to start again for Nashville.
Aside from Bieksa or Holzer drawing in for the injured Manson, it appears all other lines will carryover from Game 1.
‘THERE’S MORE WE CAN BRING’
That’s what left wing David Perron said of his line with captain Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Chris Stewart. Their line was perhaps the team’s most dangerous in the Game 1 loss, and they’ll be relied upon heavily the rest of the way. Perron finished the game with 18:25 TOI – his second highest output in a Ducks uniform since finishing with 19:19 TOI on March 2 vs. Montreal.
“Not playing for almost a month, it was almost more about the legs and getting hit a couple of times and being confident,” he said. “Having not played together for a little while, and me being a half-step behind can make a big difference. I thought the game was extremely fast early on. Again, to jump right into the playoffs isn’t easy, but it was a fun, emotional game. We’ll be a lot better tonight.”PROJECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
David Perron – Ryan Getzlaf – Chris Stewart
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Jamie McGinn – Rickard Rakell – Corey Perry
Ryan Garbutt – Nate Thompson – Chris Wagner
Cam Fowler – Kevin Bieksa
Hampus Lindholm – Sami Vatanen
Simon Despres – Shea Theodore
Frederik AndersenNASHVILLE PREDATORS
Calle Jarnkrok - Ryan Johansen - James Neal
Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Viktor Arvidsson
Miikka Salomaki - Paul Gaustad - Cody Bass
Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis
Barret Jackman - Anthony Bitetto