By Adam Brady
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” the old saying goes, and certainly the Anaheim Ducks haven’t forgotten their history as they face a Game 7 at home for the fourth straight postseason.
It’s well-documented and hardly bears repeating that the Ducks haven’t been successful in those previous Game 7s, and a 3-1 loss Monday night in Nashville means Anaheim faces another winner-take-all at Honda Center to advance to the Second Round.
Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano has been a part of each of those previous Game 7s, and while he hasn’t forgotten them, he and the rest of the Ducks know they have little impact on tomorrow night.
“They’re totally different years,” Cogliano said today soon after the Ducks arrived home from Nashville. “I’m speaking for myself, and I’m not thinking of those years. This is a completely different season, a completely different team, and we’re approaching it like that.”
|“They’re totally different years,” Cogliano said. “I’m speaking for myself, and I’m not thinking of those years. This is a completely different season, a completely different team, and we’re approaching it like that.” |
If anything, Cogliano says, the experience of playing in those previous Game 7s – regardless of the outcome – fuels the Ducks, who face a Preds team that has never played in one.
“You have to prepare a little bit differently," he said. "You have to be sharp. The margin for error is really small, so there can’t be a lack of preparation, because if there is, a mistake can be the difference. We’ll have the gameplan in place, and you just prepare to do it.”
Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler – along with Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry – has also been in each of those previous do-or-die games, and he said today, “Sometimes you just get caught up in the emotions of Game 7 that you forget what got you there in the first place, and you tend to do things that are a little out of your characteristics as a team. At least that’s one of the things I think personally. But we’ll make sure we’re ready and have a good gameplan in place.
“The main thing is to just embrace it. It’s an exciting time. I think this is already my fourth or fifth Game 7, and I’m just as excited as the first one. It’s a good opportunity for us, and I think we’re all looking forward to it.”
Cogliano dismissed the notion that all the pressure is on the Ducks in this one, because of their past frustrations. “We were down 2-0, so to say there is no pressure on them, I don’t agree with that," he said. "Like any Game 7, there is pressure on both teams, and both teams want to win. We were down 2-0 and we fought our way back to a Game 7 for the series, so I don’t agree with that.”
Indeed, the Ducks put themselves in a big hole after dropping Games 1 and 2 at home. They sprang back to win the next three games by a combined margin of 12-3 but couldn’t get that fourth straight win Monday night as Predators goalie Pekka Rinne had perhaps his best game of the series (26 saves).
“But if you told us after the first couple games that we’d have an opportunity to play Game 7 in our home building, I think we’d take it,” Fowler said. “This has been an extremely hard-fought series and both teams have laid it out on the line. But this is one of the reasons why we work so hard to get this home ice advantage, so we’re looking forward to a good opportunity for us tomorrow.”
|"If you told us after the first couple games that we’d have an opportunity to play Game 7 in our home building, I think we’d take it,” Fowler said. “This has been an extremely hard-fought series and both teams have laid it out on the line. But this is one of the reasons why we work so hard to get this home ice advantage, so we’re looking forward to a good opportunity for us tomorrow.” |
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau indicated that of the players who have been scratches the past few games, “One’s going to go in.” That could be veteran defenseman Clayton Stoner
, who was injured in the regular season finale but is “available,” according to Boudreau. The 31-year-old Stoner has played in two Game 7s, one with Minnesota and one last year with Anaheim.
Fowler said he's grown more comfortable with the built-in tension of a Game 7 the more he's experienced in them.
“I don’t have as much anxiety about it as when I was a little bit younger," said the 24-year-old. "Anytime you go through them, it helps you prepare for the next one. It’s not always the easiest thing when you’re a young player to get yourself in the right frame of mind for a Game 7, but the more times you do it, I think the easier it gets. You still have to be ready and prepared for a hard-fought game.”
With the way things have gone for this Ducks team, it was almost preconceived they would need to tackle another Game 7 to move on this postseason. Anaheim endured a dreadful opening 2 1/2 months of the season, only to fight back and earn a Pacific Division title and crucial home ice advantage in this round and the next, should they survive and advance.
“We’ve taken a hard road throughout the season, right from the beginning,” Cogliano said. “I think a lot of guys have been through a lot of adversity. We’ve had dips in the season and individually guys had tough times that they’ve had to find their way out of. We were the team down 2-0 and fought our way back in the series. To win four straight is pretty tough in the playoffs against a really good team, so it’s one game for the series.”
That one game will come in another raucous atmosphere at Honda Center, an opportunity for the Ducks to not only advance in these playoffs but to dismiss the demons of postseasons past.
“We fought for home ice throughout the season, and really did a good job to get it,” Cogliano said. “We need to use it to our advantage now.”