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Ducks rookie Andersen could get start in Game 1

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau predictably wouldn't touch the question with a 10-foot hockey stick. He doesn't reveal his starting goalie and he didn't for Game 1 of the Ducks' Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Dallas Stars (10 p.m. ET, TSN, NBCSN).

All signs point to rookie Frederik Andersen, who has been Anaheim's best goalie in the final weeks of the regular season. He won five of his past six starts and finished 20-5 to lead all rookies in wins. Jonas Hiller has struggled and rookie John Gibson has three games of NHL experience.

"One of those three are going to play," Boudreau said Tuesday.

Andersen, who was first off the ice the past two practices, didn't say if he knew he was starting the Western Conference First Round opener against the Stars on Wednesday. The 24-year-old from Denmark is soft-spoken and deferential, but said he would have some juices flowing if Boudreau gives him the nod for his first career postseason start.

"I'll be excited," Andersen said. "This is what you play for all season. You work out all summer. You get to this point and you want to enjoy it too. I feel like we have a good group. We demand a lot from each other and we're going to have a good outcome, I hope."

The Ducks seem to play better defense in front of the 6-foot-4 Andersen, who covers a lot of net and displays poise for a player with no NHL experience prior to this season.

"Just his presence in the net; being so big and athletic," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "He makes the big saves with control, not being [out of position]. He plays the puck really well. For a defenseman, when we go back to get the puck, he'll make you a pass or clear the zone. Communication will be huge with him to make sure we let him know what we want to do with the puck."

Boudreau on Monday downplayed experience as a factor in deciding his goalie. If he accounts for matchups, then Hiller's record against Dallas this season doesn't bode well because Hiller is 0-2-0 with nine goals allowed. Andersen faced the Stars once in a relief appearance.

It's been quite a downfall for Hiller, who will be a free agent in July. He has gone 5-7-2 since the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game against the Los Angeles Kings, and Boudreau chose rookie John Gibson over Hiller for the regular-season finale this past Sunday. Hiller did not even serve as backup in the final two games.

"I've had some sleepless nights … I've not been the happiest guy in the world to be around lately," Hiller told reporters Monday. "You can ask my wife."

Hiller otherwise said he simply has to work hard to get back into the net. He can boast 20 games of playoff experience, including an upset of the San Jose Sharks in 2009.

Boudreau admitted he has difficult decision.

"It's a worthwhile question," he said. "We've got three good goalies. Gibson was second star of the week last week. Hiller is the incumbent that's played most of the year, and previous five years, and Freddie Andersen has been the only goalie to get 20 wins as a rookie. He's been great."

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