By Kyle Shohara
While the Ducks await their second-round opponent, the team got in a high paced practice at Honda Center on this hot and blustery afternoon.
They’ll have at least a few more days to get in some work before the second round begins, courtesy of the LA Kings making an improbable comeback in the series they once trailed 3-0. Game 7 will be tomorrow at San Jose. Regardless of who wins, it’ll be an all-California showdown, something Andrew Cogliano is very much looking forward to.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “Both the Kings and Sharks are very good. They both have different strengths and are tough opponents. It’s going to get a lot of press, and it’ll be a lot of fun for the fans. They’re going to enjoy themselves. There will be much more bragging rights when you play teams like that.”
Never before have the Ducks and Kings met in the postseason. A Freeway Faceoff (postseason style) will surely be one of the most exciting and physical series in recent memory, considering the rivals have played 117 regular season games against each other all-time. The Ducks and Sharks have battled once in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (2009). The series marked just the second NHL playoff meeting between two California teams and the first since 1969. The Ducks eliminated the Sharks in six games, becoming the fifth team to upset the NHL’s best regular season team (by standings points) in the first round since the Expansion Era began (1967-68).
“It’s going to be an intense series that builds a lot of emotion and talk around California,” said Bryan Allen. “It’s going to be great. There’s a lot at stake. It’s going to be fun.”
Goaltender Jonas Hiller, who played a big role in Anaheim’s series-clinching comeback victory in Game 6 at Dallas, says the team will use these extra days to rest and prepare for what figures to be a long and grinding series.
“It’s nice to have these extra days to relax and take care of some bruises,” he said. “But at the same time, we have to be ready. You can’t just sit back and wait. No matter who we play, they’re going to be coming off a Game 7. If you’re not ready for the first puck drop, it might cost us.”
Matt Beleskey took part in the practice, but got off the ice early. Beleskey played 16:36 TOI in Game 6, but has been hampered by a nagging lower-body injury that kept him out of Games 2-5. Head coach Bruce Boudreau said Beleskey’s early departure today was just precautionary. “It wasn’t a setback,” he said. “I told them that if anybody is feeling anything, get off the ice because it’s going to be a tough skate. I didn’t want anybody pulling anything or tweaking anything that was already sore. That’s the benefit of clinching earlier than some teams.”
Boudreau says he’s hoping Mathieu Perreault will be available for Game 1 of the second round. Perreault was a late scratch for Game 6 last Sunday due to a lower-body injury. “Everything is day to day,” Boudreau said. “You have to put Beleskey, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and all of those guys day to day right now until they get back onto the ice and start skating.”