By AJ Manderichio
DALLAS - After a tough loss to the Stars in last night’s Game 3, the Ducks returned to the ice at American Airlines Center for a short practice today.
Much of the focus centered on defenseman Stephane Robidas, who fractured his right leg early in the second period of last night’s contest. Ryan Garbutt dove for a loose puck, awkwardly hitting the Ducks defenseman and sending him to the ice. Robidas, who recently recovered from a gruesome injury to that same leg in November, had left a lasting impression on his teammates in a short time with the club.
“He’s not only a good guy and a solid guy, but he’s a great player,” Andrew Cogliano said. “That’s a huge loss for us.”
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy echoed those same sentiments. “You feel awful for him,” Lovejoy said. “He’s battled to come back and he’s become a big part of our team. We will absolutely miss him on and off the ice.”
D-man Mark Fistric, who played with Robidas while the two were members of the Stars, admitted it was a heartbreaking scene. “I’ve been a teammate of Robi’s for a lot of years,” he said. “I looked up to him as a mentor and he means the world to me. He showed me and taught me a lot.”
The loss provides extra motivation for a Ducks squad with plenty already in the tank.
“You want to win for him,” Cogliano said. “When you see a guy go down and break his leg for the second time in six months, you feel it down deep. I think a lot of guys did feel that and we’re looking to make things right.”LET’S GET PHYSICAL
As their first round series has progressed, the Ducks and Stars have ramped up the physical play. The two teams combined for 64 hits last night, and nearly each whistle featured a scrum and plenty of punches exchanged.
The Ducks expected nothing less.
“I wasn’t that surprised on the way they came out,” Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. “They came out hitting, and they tend to do that in their building more than anywhere. Being down 2-0 in a series, I think that’s the only thing you can do – come out hard and play a good game.”
It’s not just the heavy hitters throwing their weight around on the ice.
“Guys who don’t normally hit during the regular season hit in the playoffs,” Fistric said. “It’s a best-of-seven series, and guys on each team are going to do whatever it takes to win four games.”
While the Ducks want to avoid retaliation penalties and getting into the fray, coach Bruce Boudreau provided a simple solution to curb the increased physicality.
“You counteract that if you score a couple of goals on the power play,” he said. “If you’re not going to make them pay when they’re doing things, automatically they’re going to keep doing things because they have no fear of you.”