By Kyle Shohara
|"The playoffs, that's why we play. When every shift, every blocked shot, every shot means something. You play the same team in a best-of-seven series. There's something special. You have to earn every inch. That's what it's all about."
-- Teemu Selanne
The Ducks concluded an hour-long practice at THE RINKS – Anaheim ICE this afternoon, as they prepare for a first-round playoff matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.
Luca Sbisa, who has been battling a lower body injury, was back on the ice with his teammates and took part in all drills.
The Ducks and Red Wings will meet for the sixth time in postseason. The clubs previously met in 1997 (Detroit 4-0, Conference Semifinals), 1999 (Detroit 4-0, Conference Quarterfinals), 2003 (Ducks 4-0, Conference Quarterfinals), 2007 (Ducks 4-2, Conference Finals), and 2009 (Detroit 4-3, Conference Semifinals).
On his memories of facing Detroit in the postseason: “We know what kind of team they are, 22 consecutive playoff appearances. That’s something unbelievable, but there are no secrets on our side and their side. It’s going to be a good battle.
“History is repeating itself now. I’m expecting a really good matchup. They’ve been very hot lately and been battling to stay alive. On the same hand, we are ready, too. I’m expecting a good hard battle.”
On what this postseason means to him: “[The Stanley Cup Playoffs] is the best time for a hockey player. My expectation for this team and myself are very high. When you’re toward the end of the road, you try to take every opportunity you have and take advantage of it. We have a lot of hungry guys who want to make a difference. This is the challenge we want to face together. Hopefully we can do well.
“If you don’t make the playoffs, and it doesn’t matter how good you’ve played, you don’t feel good inside. You feel you have failed if you don’t make the playoffs. The playoffs, that’s why we play. When every shift, every blocked shot, every shot means something. You play the same team in a best-of-seven series. There’s something special. You have to earn every inch. That’s what it’s all about.”
On the importance of secondary scoring in the postseason: “In the playoffs, I’ve always said you’re as good as your weakest link. Raise that bar as high as you can. Everybody’s first line is good. Second line, too. But those third and fourth lines are how you’re going to win. I remember in 2007 with [Samuel] Pahlsson, [Rob] Niedermayer and [Travis] Moen. A lot of nights they were our best line. That’s what we need.”
On his fondest postseason memory against Detroit [his overtime goal in Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena in the 2007 Western Conference Final]: “That moment was priceless. There are no words to describe that. You don’t need words. It happened so quickly. The best thing was when the whole arena [went silent]. It was like someone turned the volume off. You could hear the breathing from the fans. It was just awesome. Let’s do it again.” Watch his overtime goal
On facing the Red Wings: “It’s always special to play against them. It’s always a big rivalry. There’s a reason why they’ve been in the playoffs for 22 straight years. They compete, they have a lot of experience and their skill level is as good as anybody in the league. We have to be careful, especially against their top two lines. They can score a lot of goals. Their d-men like to join the rush, too.”
On what this postseason means to the older players on the team: “Having a chance to win it earlier in your career, you don’t realize it’s that hard, and you might not see it again. That’s what you try to tell the younger guys. This is it. This is the one chance we have. We really want to make that push because you never know when you’ll have that chance again. Missing the playoffs last year was really hard.
“You play for the playoffs. You play to win. You play to win the Stanley Cup. That should be your goal every year, but it’s hard. There’s only one team that’s doing it every year out of 30 teams. Now we’re in, we had a good season, but we can’t think about the regular season anymore. It starts with Game 1 on Tuesday, and we’ll go from there.”
On what the postseason means for veteran players: “I don’t know what they think, but I’m always thinking it would be really nice for them. You’d love it to happen on your watch. It’s an emotional good moment to think of. I worry too, there are guys here who have barely made the team. They might be 22 years old. Now they win it. How’s that going for them? You can sit down and imagine they’re thinking six months ago, all they wanted to do is play in an NHL game. But that’s an emotional moment, like a storybook. I dream about it, but I don’t want to dream any further past Tuesday.”
On how to find success against Detroit: “We need to have 20 guys playing. They’re definitely not the same team we played at the beginning of the season. If you look at their lineup, it’s just loaded with skill and speed, and Jimmy Howard has three shutouts in his last six games. So we’re going to need everybody on board and we’re going to need everybody playing the right way, and we’re going to need to do the right things.”
On playing playoff-mode hockey: “The effort of playoff-mode hockey was there [during last night’s game]. We played a pretty good defensive team and we ended up with 46 shots on goal, and sometimes that’s misleading, but we had some great chances to score and we just never put it in. Hopefully starting Tuesday, if we have that same kind of effort, we’ll get a couple more bounces our way.”