By Kyle Shohara
AnaheimDucks.com Photo Gallery
Like they’ve done all throughout this run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Ducks have used home ice to their advantage in the opening games of each series. After taking Games 1 and 2 against the Winnipeg Jets (First Round) and Calgary Flames (Second Round), the Ducks can put themselves in a good spot with a victory tonight vs. Chicago in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.
The 6 p.m. PT start time tonight meant the Ducks held an optional morning skate an hour earlier than normal, and coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed the lines used in Game 1 will carry over into Game 2. With the top two lines canceling out Chicago’s top-six in Game 1, Anaheim’s bottom-six depth forwards came through in a big way.
Nate Thompson earned a postseason career-high two points on Sunday in his 28th career Stanley Cup Playoff game, and Kyle Palmieri recorded his first goal of the playoffs, which also served as his first career playoff game-winning goal, giving the Ducks seven skaters with game-winning tallies this postseason (tied for second among NHL teams).
“We need to approach things like we did in the second and third [periods] last game,” said Andrew Cogliano, who assisted on Thompson’s goal and finished with a plus-2 rating in Game 1. “At the end of the day, we just have to make plays. They’re a team that feeds off turnovers, so we have to keep the puck. They will be better. They’re a top-end team and they know how to win. Hopefully we’re prepared.”
The Blackhawks said they need to establish more of a net-front presence tonight than they did in the opener, which means the Ducks will have to clog lanes and clear bodies from the front of the net. “We need to make sure we play strong in the defensive zone,” said defenseman Francois Beauchemin. “They like to get their defense involved in the play. For us as defensemen, we need to have a good box-out when they come to the net.”
Dependable two-way forward Jakob Silfverberg says he and the rest of the team’s forwards will need to do whatever is necessary to get in the lanes, including blocking shots. “We need to make sure their defense doesn’t get clear shots from the blueline,” said Silfverberg, who has six points in his last three games. “If they want to shoot it, they have to shoot it beside the net. We need to make sure we’re in the shooting lanes. It’s a tough job, but we need to make sure we’re blocking shots and doing everything we can to make it easier on Freddie [Andersen].”
MAXIMIZING HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Anaheim’s six-game home win streak is the second-longest in franchise history and longest of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Only during their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003 did the Ducks have a longer home win streak (seven games, April 30-June 7) during the postseason.
A big reason why the Ducks have gone 6-0 and outscored their opponents 22-7 at Honda Center is the impact the fans have on the players.
“The fans have been great throughout the whole year, but in the playoffs they’ve been stepping it up,” said Silfverberg. “They bring a lot of good energy for us, and of course we want to win in front of them. They’ve been great to us. We want to give them all we’ve got.”
“We feed off the crowd and we’ve done a good job of getting leads in games,” said Cogliano. “We enjoy playing here. Our special teams have been good, and our last game was a good example. We did a good job on the penalty kill. It’s home ice for a reason. You have to take advantage of it.”EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano-Nate Thompson-Kyle Palmieri
Emerson Etem-Rickard Rakell-Jiri Sekac
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami Vatanen