|“I don’t think anybody is happy how we played the third period,” said Selanne“It seems to me every time when we just try to play safe and are backing up, we have problems. The best defense is offense.” |
While they currently hold a 2-1 series advantage over the Red Wings in their Western Conference Semifinal showdown, the Ducks know full well an even bigger effort will be required -- particularly in the third period -- if they are to break open that margin.
It is that final regulation period where the Ducks throttled the Sharks during the first round of the playoffs (outscoring San Jose 9-2 over the six-game series despite being outshot 67-47) that they are now having difficulty in against the Red Wings. Either tied with the Ducks or trailing entering the third, Detroit
has been strong in minutes 40-60 in the first three games of this series. They have outshot Anaheim
51-17 while getting a game-winning goal (Game 1) and a game-tying goal (Game 2 and nearly another in Game 3) down that stretch. The boys in black and gold know a major reversal will be required going forward.
“I don’t think anybody is happy how we played the third period,” said Teemu Selanne
, who scored the first of two Ducks goals in Game 2. “It seems to me every time when we just try to play safe and are backing up, we have problems. The best defense is offense. You can’t really change your style and your gameplan. I think we changed too much in
the third period and they got the momentum going.”
|“We watched some video today on what we had done wrong in the third and why we were giving up so many chances,” Whitney said. “They played well, they were putting everything on net, but we definitely can’t leave Jonas out to dry like that." |
Even in that barrage of red-and-white in the third periods, Hiller has managed to firmly stand tall. He saved all 18 shots fired his way in that final session on Tuesday and has stopped 49 in all during that period in the first three games. But Ryan Whitney is one Duck who knows they can’t keep leaning on their goalie like they have.
“We watched some video today on what we had done wrong in the third and why we were giving up so many chances,” Whitney said. “They played well, they were putting everything on net, but we definitely can’t leave Jonas [Hiller] out to dry like that. He can’t play like that every game, I don’t think. It’s important for us to not give up as many shots.”
One key contributor who missed that final period in Game 3 was defenseman James Wisniewski, who took a puck to the chest fired from Pavel Datsyuk and an elbow to the head from Tomas Holmstrom before being wheeled off the ice in a stretcher during the second period. The 25-year-old was taken to UCI Medical Center
and diagnosed with a lung contusion. He was initially scheduled to remain at the hospital for precautionary reasons until Thursday, but was released this afternoon. His status is unclear for Game 4, but his fellow d-man Whitney said he was sounding better when he spoke with him last night.
“He seems to be in good spirits,” Whitney said. “I think it was pretty good news. I don’t know exactly what they told him, but I don’t think it’s anything too serious. It was pretty scary when he was coughing up blood.
“I know as soon as he can be back, he will be. He’s a tough kid. He had already got hit by the puck, so I think he was already probably pretty dazed. The elbow really put him down. It was impressive he even stayed up right when he got hit to begin with.”
|Wisniewski's status for Game 4 is unknown after suffering a lung contusion, but Whitney says, "I know as soon as he can be back, he will be. He’s a tough kid." |
If Wisniewski is unable to make it back into the lineup by tomorrow night, the Ducks will choose from Brendan Mikkelson, Brett Festerling or Brian Salcido to replace him. Each of those players is a rookie, but Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is comfortable if that decision needs to be made.
“We have to make a decision on one of those three,” Carlyle said. “We’ll do that here in the next 24 hours. They have played with our hockey club this year, so we feel confident in putting one of those guys in.”
The burden of taking Wisniewski’s responsibilities would not solely lie on the individual taking his spot if it comes to that. It will be a group effort among the blueliners to help fill the void left by the sparkplug acquired from Chicago
on March 4. “He was a guy that was out killing penalties and on the power play, playing in all situations,” Scott Niedermayer said. “There will be more asked of everybody.”
Niedermayer’s goal in the second period last night gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead that marked the first two-goal advantage of the tight series. The remaining games promise to be more of the same.
“We were not expecting anything else,” said Hiller. “Here are two great hockey teams out there. Detroit
has an unbelievable team. We’ve been keeping up pretty good so far. I’m sure the rest of the series is going to be tight. That is why we have to be ready 100 percent because there are small things that decide if you win or lose. We know we have to keep it up. Everybody has to be ready.”