By Kyle Shohara
CALGARY – After getting away for two days in the picturesque mountain town of Banff for a little R&R, the Ducks were back inside the cavernous Scotiabank Saddledome this morning for their gameday skate. The Ducks, with a victory tonight, can leave Calgary needing just one more win to advance to the Western Conference Third Round and a date with the Chicago Blackhawks. A Ducks loss, however, will make this a best-of-three series, with two more games to be played at Honda Center.
Looking to backstop the Ducks to a victory tonight will be Frederik Andersen, whose loss in Game 3 represents his only blemish in his otherwise sparkling 6-1 record. The 25-year-old Dane has a 1.63 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in this series and ranks tied for second among league goaltenders in wins. Andersen’s backup tonight will be John Gibson, who has since recovered from an upper-body injury in early April and an illness last week.
New line combinations were used during the skate, most notably Kyle Palmieri taking rushes with Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman. The line composed of Tomas Fleischmann, Rickard Rakell and Andrew Cogliano carried over from yesterday’s practice in Banff.
For Fleischmann, the postseason is anything but a new experience. The 30-year-old has appeared in four previous Stanley Cup Playoffs (2008-10, 2012) with Washington and Florida, and he filled in at center for Thompson and Chris Wagner during Games 3 and 4 of the first round vs. Winnipeg. His ability to fill in as a pivot is a huge plus, in the event one of the four natural centermen goes down with an injury.
“It’s always nice to have five potential centermen in the lineup because it’s such an important position,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “He’s a veteran of many playoffs and he played really well for us in the Winnipeg series. He’s a skilled player, but he’s played in tough situations before. He’ll bring a little bit of that to our game tonight.”
Fleischmann says he knows his role on the club and wants to take full advantage of his opportunity tonight. “You have to show the coach you want to stay in the lineup,” he said. “Hopefully I do that tonight. All four lines have to play hard. You have to win the battles along the boards, and I have to produce offensively.”
As for Palmieri dropping to the fourth line, Boudreau says he’s already had a talk with the 24-year-old winger, who has one point in these playoffs. Palmieri had three goals in nine postseason games last year and five points in seven games in 2013.
SENSE OF URGENCY
The Ducks didn’t give the Jets any sort of life in the first round with statement victories in Games 3 and 4 on the road. That type of killer instinct will need to be on display tonight if the Ducks hope to squash any sort of momentum the Flames generated with their win on Tuesday.
“It’s a game we feel we need to win,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “We don’t want to give these guys anymore life than they already have. They played a great game, so we have to be ready for Game 4 and play our best game of the series.”
“It’s either 3-1 or 2-2 after tonight,” said a no-nonsense Simon Despres. “It’s a big game and it’ll be a fun game to play in. We’re going to work harder and play a better game than we did in Game 3.”EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Tomas Fleischmann-Rickard Rakell-Andrew Cogliano
Kyle Palmieri-Nate Thompson-Tim Jackman
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami VatanenCALGARY
Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Jiri Hudler
Sam Bennett-Mikael Backlund-Joe Colborne
Brandon Bollig-Josh Jooris-Mason Raymond
Lance Bouma-Matt Stajan-David Jones
Deryk Engelland-TJ Brodie
Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman
Raphael Diaz-David Schlemko