By Kyle Shohara
AnaheimDucks.com Photo Gallery
The Ducks have a chance to get to a place they haven’t been to since their hallowed Stanley Cup championship run in 2007. A win tonight over the Calgary Flames will place the Ducks into the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, who swept the Minnesota Wild last week.
With the series now back in Anaheim, the Ducks will look to build upon their spotless home record in these playoffs. The Ducks enter tonight’s game with a 4-0 record on home ice, and have outscored their opponents 15-4 in games vs. the Jets and Flames. Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano says having the opportunity to close out the series on home ice means even more.
“We’re all excited to play at home,” Cogliano said. “It’s a great building. It’s been fun playing in places like Calgary and Winnipeg, but we’re very confident our fans will make it very tough on [the Flames] like it was in Calgary for us. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Cogliano says the team hasn’t forgotten about last year’s heartbreaking Game 7 loss in the second round. “We’re excited, as we should be,” he said. “This is a big game for us. This is a big game to move on to the next round and get over a hump a lot of guys want to get over.”
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says he sees a more composed team this year compared to last, and the experience of going through a second round series which was theirs for the taking was a good lesson learned.
“The experience…as much as we didn’t like it, in the end it helped us,” said Boudreau. “That’s a really big positive. Let’s face it. Last year, we played six really good games in Round 2. If things had gone our way, we could’ve ended it in five, but we lost to the Stanley Cup Champions. We lost in Game 7 and that lingered with us all year. They would like to make amends.”
Within the Ducks locker room throughout the regular season and especially so in the playoffs is a sense of confidence and belief that perhaps wasn’t as abundant in year’s past. The Ducks knew they were a better than Winnipeg, and they went out and finished them off in four games. And after a temporary slip up in Game 3 which cost them a victory, the Ducks rebounded with a 4-2 victory in a crucial Game 4 at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Goaltender Frederik Andersen’s classic quote following Anaheim’s series clinching victory against the Jets sums it up: “You don’t give them any hope. You have to put them away when you can. That’s the bottom line.”
“Tonight has to be the night,” said Kyle Palmieri. “We’ve had that attitude; the will and the want to win every night. We had it a little bit in the playoffs last year, but it just wasn’t enough. The core of guys from last year, we knew coming into this year it was going to take everybody. So far we’ve done a good job, but tonight has to be our best game.”
Cogilano says it’s not only a huge game for the players, but also for the entire organization. “Their season is on the line, and we understand that” Cogliano says, “but it’s about us. It’s about us playing in front of our home crowd and being ready to play. This is the time to beat them. It’s an opportunity to go on to the conference final, and it’s a big game for the organization. We have to seize the moment.
“It’d be nice to come home and have a good, strong game in front of your fans, and win an important hockey game,” said Cogliano. “You need to win games on the road and at home when you get the opportunity. When you get the opportunity to beat teams and eliminate them, you have to do that.”EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano-Nate Thompson-Kyle Palmieri
Tomas Fleischmann-Rickard Rakell-Tim Jackman
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami VatanenCALGARY
Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Jiri Hudler
Lance Bouma-Mikael Backlund-Joe Colborne
Micheal Ferland-Matt Stajan-David Jones
Brandon Bollig-Sam Bennett-Mason Raymond
Deryk Engelland-TJ Brodie
Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman
Raphael Diaz-David Schlemko