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Ducks aiming higher after clinching playoff spot

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Anaheim Ducks clinched a second consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearance to little fanfare.

Their sights are set higher.

The Ducks, who kick off a three-game Western Canadian road trip against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, trail the San Jose Sharks by four points but hold three games at hand in the race for a Pacific Division title.

"We're disappointed we didn't clinch it sooner," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, whose Ducks clinched after the Dallas Stars lost 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. "We haven't played well the last 15 games. You take the previous 55 games and you'd think that we would've clinched it sooner. Nobody said anything today [about clinching].

"I don't want to sound like we're bragging, but we should be in the playoffs from what our first 55 games were. Hopefully we're just not going to get into the playoffs. Hopefully we're going to win the division and do some damage."

The Ducks have limped of late, posting a 6-7-2 record in their past 15 games. One of those losses came in a 7-2 trouncing at the hands of the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 12.

"Ducks have very good memories -- I know this," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "I already warned my guys that we have to be ready because this is a great team. It's going to be a good challenge. I love those challenges because I think it allows our group to grow and also get a great gauge of where our game is. We have to be ready."

The Ducks too, forward Teemu Selanne declared.

"That was embarrassing how we played, but sometimes it's good to get that kind of wake-up call," he said.

"That was a good lesson that you have to be ready. It doesn't matter if some teams are not in the playoff hunt. It's even more dangerous to play against teams that are playing for jobs next year. That's the best motivation we can have. Hopefully we remember that. We've got to be ready and play our game because these guys are playing really well."

Calgary has won six of its past 10 games and has been tough on home ice of late, winning 10 of the past 13 games to even its record at 17-17-3 at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Defenseman Mark Giordano knows the Flames will have to be ready to push for another win.

"They're a team who obviously aren't going to be too happy we beat them the other week here pretty bad," he said. "It's going to be a real tough game. You have to play with the puck because if they have it, it's going to be trouble, for sure."

Here are the projected lineups:


Teemu Selanne - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Patrick Maroon - Mathieu Perreault - Kyle Palmieri

Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Jakob Silfverberg

Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Tim Jackman

Hampus Lindholm - Ben Lovejoy

Luca Sbisa - Stephane Robidas

Bryan Allen - Sami Vatanen

Jonas Hiller

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Mark Fistric, Francois Beauchemin, Rickard Rakell, Daniel Winnik

Injured: Sheldon Souray (wrist), Cam Fowler (MCL sprain)


Curtis Glencross - Matt Stajan - Jiri Hudler

Mike Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Paul Byron

Lance Bouma - Sean Monahan - Joe Colborne

Kevin Westgarth - TJ Galiardi - Brian McGrattan

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Chris Butler

Ladislav Smid - Tyler Wotherspoon

Karri Ramo

Joey MacDonald

Scratched: Ben Hanowski, Kenny Agostino

Injured: David Jones (upper body), Markus Granlund (upper body), Dennis Wideman (upper body)

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