It Ducks fans felt like they waited an eternity for these playoffs to finally get underway, they’ve got nothing on Tim Jackman.
In 11 seasons with six different NHL teams, the 33-year-old heavyweight had played an astounding 481 NHL games without ever appearing in the postseason. That all finally changed last night at Honda Center, when Jackman played a physical nine minutes in Anaheim’s thrilling 4-2 victory over Winnipeg in Game 1.
“It’s been a long time,” the affable Jackman said following Friday afternoon’s practice, “and it was a lot of fun. All of the buildup to the game and everybody preparing for it, and then all of the atmosphere and everything, it was exciting.”
Jackman said he could feel the buzz of his first postseason experience even before he hit the ice last night. “I felt it just before the game,” he said. “You could hear the crowd gearing up even before warmups. They were chanting and getting going. And then during the anthems, you could already feel the electricity in the building starting to build up. As soon as the puck dropped, it was game on.”
It was long overdue for Jackman, who was all set to make his first postseason appearances with the Ducks last year (his first season in Anaheim) when he suffered a broken hand late in a game vs. Nashville on April 4. He missed the entire postseason, forced to only watch as the Ducks were defeated by LA in Game 7 of the Second Round.
|“I’m just trying to enjoy this experience, and it’s been fun so far. It was a good start for us last night, and when we were done, I think everybody wished we were playing today. We just had that excitement still going.” |
This season looked like it could have been the same story all over again, as Jackman injured his knee colliding with Ales Hemsky of the Stars in a March 1 victory and was ruled out for four to six weeks. “This year when I got injured again, I was like, ‘Oh man, I don’t want to make this a trend,’ said Jackman, who had played in 55 games up to that point. “So I was thankful that it happened at a time where I had time to get back.”
And there was a silver lining to that injury, as Jackman was able to help his wife, Chelsey, after the March 9 birth of their first child, a son named James Robert Jackman.
“The timing was pretty good in that respect,” Jackman says. “We feel very fortunate that I got to be around for that, to just be there for my wife and try to help out as much as I can. I couldn’t do much, but I could run and get groceries and do the little things like that. It’s our first baby, so we’re both rookies. I’m glad I got to experience it all and be there for him.”
Jackman says Chelsey has been gracious “and she’s letting me sleep downstairs during the playoffs. She’s letting me get rest. She wakes up with him every three hours or so to feed him, and I sleep. It’s been nice.”
Jackman looked more than fresh last night, throwing around his 6-2, 224-pound frame against an exceptionally physical Winnipeg team in a game that saw 83 total hits between the teams. “I’ve been inserted into the lineup when we’ve faced physical teams like this,” Jackman says. “I got to play against Winnipeg all the games against them during the regular season. I feel like I can help out and just play a simple game and try to be physical, try to wear down their defensemen throughout the series. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau liked what he saw in Jackman, saying he once again brought everything his coaches and teammates expected of him. “He’s going to play hard, he’s going to finish checks, he’s going to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful,” Boudreau said. “We’ve talked about it for the last couple days, where it’s  regular season games before getting in the playoffs. I’m glad he played. He’s a big part of our team, and we seem to play better when he’s in the lineup. It’s three games under the belt since he’s had his injury, and he’s getting stronger every day. So, we’ll keep him in the lineup.”
That’s good news for Jackman, who said that after going through his first playoff experience last night, his only thought was wanting to do it again – right away.
“I’m just trying to enjoy this experience,” Jackman says, “and it’s been fun so far. It was a good start for us last night, and when we were done, I think everybody wished we were playing today. We just had that excitement still going.”