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Practice Report: Veterans Look to Lead by Example as Ducks Prepare for Western Conference Final

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Kyle Shohara

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The NHL’s leading scorer in the postseason and Anaheim’s Game 5 hero did not take part in practice this afternoon at Honda Center, but fear not, says Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau.

“Just a maintenance day,” said Boudreau on Perry’s absence from the hour-long skate. “He’ll be back on the ice next practice.”

Ducks fans got a serious scare Sunday during the second period of Anaheim’s series-clinching victory over the Calgary Flames when Matt Stajan made contact with Perry just inside the blueline, sending him to the ice in serious distress. Unable to put any pressure on his right leg, Perry struggled to the Ducks bench and needed assistance into the locker room. But as he’s done time and time again, Perry (who turns 30 on Saturday) was back on the ice, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Although the series schedule has yet to be released, the Ducks are taking full advantage of this break, much like they did prior to the First Round and the week-long break leading into the Second Round.

“We’re still in the midst of putting all of our scouting stuff together,” said Boudreau. “We’ll start ramping it up. We’ll be ready for [Game 1], whether it’s three days of rest or six days of rest. It doesn’t matter. Whatever rest we have, they’ve had more. Both teams are going in fairly healthy, and that’s the way it should go.”

“I’m going to Anaheim to win a championship. That’s going to my sole goal, and my team’s sole goal.” Those were the words of Ryan Kesler on June 27, the day he was traded to the Ducks. And now, 11 months later, Kesler and his teammates find themselves in the NHL’s version of the final four. The 30-year-old Livonia, Michigan native has been here before as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, who in 2011 came within a game of winning the Stanley Cup. At this stage of the postseason, Kesler says it’s important to keep an even keel, and it’s up to the leaders in the room, including himself, to ensure the entire team is of the same mindset.

“It comes from experience,” Kesler said. “Obviously, the young guys are going to be excited going through this for the first time and making it this far. We still have a long way to go. It only gets harder from here every step of the way.”

Kesler, who has risen to another level here in these playoffs, says it’s going to take a full team effort in order to win eight more games.

“You need everybody going,” Kesler said. “You need four lines, you need your power play, your penalty kill and your goalie playing. You really need 20 guys out there to play as mistake-free hockey as possible.”

Guys like Kesler and Nate Thompson, and 2007 Cup champions Francois Beauchemin, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have all battled in the Conference Finals. Thompson and his Tampa Bay Lightning squad fell in seven games in the ECF to the Boston Bruins – the team that eliminated Kesler and the Canucks in Game 7 at Rogers Arena. Beauchemin, Getzlaf and Perry made it to the WCF for the first time in 2006 vs. Edmonton, and again in 2007 vs. Detroit, before capturing the franchise’s first-ever championship vs. Ottawa.

“We can’t be too high after winning one or two series,” said the 34-year-old Beauchemin. “You have to keep going. Our goal is to win 16 games. It’s not to win eight, 10 or 12. We were a happy group after Game 5 [vs. Calgary], but we have to start all over again.”

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