By Kyle Shohara
Only one more day remains until the Ducks open the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Calgary Flames, and it can’t come soon enough. With unusually long stretches between games, dating back to early April when the regular season was in progress, the Ducks (and their fans) have had to wait, and wait, and wait. The Ducks haven’t played since Wednesday when they eliminated the Jets in a series that felt like it happened months ago.
After an upbeat practice at Honda Center today, the players say they’re just as eager to get this series going as their fans.
“It was a bit of a long wait, and we didn’t know if it was going to be Thursday or Friday, but the guys are happy about the Thursday schedule,” said defenseman Clayton Stoner. Though the break was long, Stoner says it gave the team an ample amount of practice time to stay sharp and focused. “It gave the guys a chance to rest, which is obviously one benefit, but at the same time, it did feel like a long time,” he said. “You need to get your mind back into playoff mode.”
Francois Beauchemin says they’ve used this week of practice to work on areas of their game they “can never work too much on,” and those include forecheck and breakout drills, and defensive-zone coverage. “We’ve practiced really hard the last three days on things we needed to get better at,” he said. “We’ve had some really good time.”
The break in the schedule has allowed for injured players like Nate Thompson (upper-body injury) an extra few days to rest, heal up and get back into game mode. Thompson was injured in the regular season finale on April 11 and has yet to appear in the postseason with the Ducks. But the good news is he has taken part in every practice this week and is responding well to physical contact, though he remains tight-lipped regarding his status for tomorrow night and beyond.
SIZING UP THE FLAMES
The Ducks used their size and physicality to punish an equally physical Winnipeg Jets team in the opening round, and they are planning on doing the same against the Flames. Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says his team will attempt to execute the same game plan against a team noted for its speed.
“We have a very simple way to play, and we’re going to play it,” said Boudreau. “We know their strengths. We don’t want to get into a run-and-gun game. That’s not the way we play. We hope we’re big and strong enough to contain them.”
The Ducks are also blessed with speed throughout the lineup, a quality which often times goes unnoticed because of the team’s size and strength. “I think sometimes our team doesn’t get enough credit for a lot of things, speed being one of them,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know if there is a player on either team faster than Andrew Cogliano. Ryan Kesler is a very good skater, and we have guys like Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem and Cam Fowler. They’re all good skaters. We’re just noted for being bigger.”
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano/Jiri Sekac-Rickard Rakell-Kyle Palmieri
Emerson Etem/Tomas Fleischmann-Nate Thompson-Tim Jackman
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami Vatanen