By Kyle Shohara
|"It's fun, it's exciting. You'll be emotional, but you have to control it and be ready to play." -- Andrew Cogliano, who will make his postseason debut after playing in 458 consecutive games over six seasons.
The Ducks begin their quest for their second Stanley Cup tonight against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Honda Center (7:30 p.m./Fox Sports West, ESPN 710).
Luca Sbisa (lower body) participated in the entire morning skate, paired with Sami Vatanen, and the defenseman said he hasn’t had any setbacks recently. “We’ll see about tonight,” said Sbisa. “It’ll be a game-time decision. So far it was a good day. The past three days have been really good. No steps back, which is key right now. Before, we did too much too soon. We’re slowly getting better.”
Although Jonas Hiller was the first goaltender off the ice, head coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t reveal tonight’s starting goaltender. “I haven’t stated that I’m going with Hiller yet,” said Boudreau. “He came off the ice first, but Viktor [Fasth] was with the defensemen.”
It’s a feel-good story for Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano, who is set to make his postseason debut. Cogliano has played in 458 consecutive regular season games over six NHL seasons.
“It’s fun, it’s exciting,” Cogliano said. “You’ll be emotional, but you have to control it and be ready to play. You have to be focused and ready to execute. I think in these games, especially for myself, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, but at the end of the day, it’s all about execution.”
On having a chance at winning a Stanley Cup championship: “It’s great. This is why we play and this is the reason why you play the regular season. For me, like everyone in this room, it’s an exciting time. We know we have a pretty good team, so let’s make a run.”
On his first postseason: “You can’t take it as just another game, because it’s not. It’s way more than that. At the same time, I’m not nervous at all. The attention to detail right now is huge, as far as getting your sleep, getting your rest, the nutrition you’re putting in your body. It just all builds up to these types of moments. I’m ready for it. I’ve just got to bring a lot of energy and play my hardest out there.”
On why he’s not nervous: “It’s hockey. At the end of the day, you’re going to have fun. I just think the crowd and the atmosphere is going to add to that. I can’t wait to see those orange towels waving.”
On the Detroit Red Wings: “They’re a tough team. They skate well and control the puck. It’s the same Detroit Red Wings organization that’s been here for a long time. A little different personnel here and there, but most of all, their group is the same up front, and we’ve got to be ready for that tonight.”
On parity amongst the eight playoff teams: “If you’re in the playoffs, and the Kings proved it last year, they were the eighth seed. If you’re in the playoffs, you’re ready to play and you have a good hockey team. Especially with the shortened season with the way it was, everybody needed wins a lot and needed them quick. [Detroit] was able to do what they needed to do down the stretch.”
On beginning the playoffs on a high note: “I feel like we played the way we wanted to during the last couple of games of the season. We got ready in the last week the way we wanted to. I feel very comfortable with our group.”
On what Nick Bonino brings to the team: “He solidified [the second line]. He’s done a great job on the power play. I think we’ve scored in five or six straight games on the power play. He’s a really good presence there. The guys really like him. He blocks shots. He’s always the leader [in blocked shots] for us. He’s a very valuable piece to our puzzle. He may not have the numbers other people assume a second-line center is going to have, but he does an awful lot of good things.”
On tonight’s starting goaltender: “I haven’t stated that I’m going with Hiller yet. He came off the ice first, but Viktor [Fasth] was with the defensemen. Isn’t that usually the case? [Hiller] would be a strong consideration because he’s a good goalie. He’s played great, as has Viktor. It’s a toss-up, quite frankly, between them. If there’s any advantage for Hiller it’s because he’s had playoff experience on this side of the water.”
On Anaheim’s Getzlaf, Perry, and Detroit’s Datsyuk, Zetterberg: “You’re talking about the four best forwards on the ice in any situation. It usually comes down to your best players. If they’re your best players, you usually succeed. The battle would be, hopefully, our two guys make more of an impact than their two guys. I think both teams are well aware of when those guys are on the ice. The differences in play are two are a little smaller and dynamic, and the other two guys are bigger and stronger. It’s a pretty good barometer to see which works better.”
On if Game 1 is any more important than others in the series: “Today, it’s the most important game. That’s pretty well the way I look at it. When it’s over, when you look at Game 2, it’ll become the most important game. And then when you reflect on the series, you’ll probably reflect on one game being the turning point either way, whether it’s Game 1 or Game 7. I don’t think, at this stage, it takes on any more importance than another game.”
On the mindset of the team: “I think the guys are ready. They’ve been waiting to play a really meaningful game for a while now. Whether we’re good enough, time will tell.”