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Ellis likely to be Game 1 starter for Anaheim

by Curtis Zupke
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- All signs point to Dan Ellis in goal for Anaheim when the Ducks open the playoffs against Nashville on Wednesday.

Coach Randy Carlyle predictably said he hasn't decided who he will start, but Ellis seems to be the most ready after Ray Emery and Jonas Hiller each said Monday they are not quite healthy.

Ellis is coming off two straight victories to end the regular season in which he stopped 66 of 68 shots against Los Angeles, and Carlyle pointed to his 8-3-1 record since he joined Anaheim in February.

"He's been a great guy, as far as his work ethic, and hasn't wavered in his support of his teammates." -- Randy Carlyle on Dan Ellis

"I think if it wasn't for Ray Emery winning six in a row, Dan Ellis would have played all of them," Carlyle said. "But you play one game with Ray Emery and he wins and then you go back to him and he continues to win. What do you do? You go with the hot hand.

"But Dan has been very strong in the net for us. He's been a great guy, as far as his work ethic, and hasn't wavered in his support of his teammates."

Carlyle's tough decision over his goaltenders harkens back to when he had to pick between veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere and a hot Ilya Bryzgalov in the playoffs.

But this is a situation of health, and Emery all but ruled himself out of the short-term picture as he tries to get over a lower-body injury. He is 7-2 with a 2.28 goals-against average with Anaheim.

"I've been gradually feeling better but not quite where I can contribute or not re-injure myself," Emery said after a long skate.

"I can move well and feel pretty stable. There's certain kind of plays in the game you can't predict. Once I can feel confident that I'm not at risk or I can handle those, I'm sure we'll get to the point where I'm available to the team."

Hiller has served as backup the past two games. He said he was asked if he could play last Saturday but declined as he has not fully recovered from vertigo symptoms.

"I was definitely thinking about it," Hiller said. "But I never felt … comfortable. It doesn't make sense to go out there and try it if I don't feel like I'm good out there. I kind of, at the end, had to tell myself it's really better if I don't play.

"Obviously right now I hope Dan or Ray can carry the load. That definitely helps take some pressure off me."

Selanne coming back home? Teemu Selanne said it would be a thrill to play in his home country when the Ducks play two games in Finland next season.

Anaheim will play an exhibition against his former club team, Jokerit of the SM-Liga, on Oct.4, and a regular season game against Buffalo three days later at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. 

That doesn't necessarily mean Selanne, 40, will return for another season, though.

"It's not going to affect my decision," Selanne said. "Obviously it sounds very interesting and I know it's going to be a crazy experience for the guys. It's a great hockey city."

Selanne said he will be there regardless of whether he retires. Anaheim also has Finnish players Saku Koivu, Toni Lydman and Jarkko Ruutu.

"I don't know my own situation yet," Selanne said. "Obviously it's going to be fun. … It's going to be huge. We were there with Winnipeg in '94. It was a huge deal even then. Obviously now we have so many Finns on our team, it's going to be even more special."

Beauchemin held out: Defenseman Francois Beauchemin was held out of practice because of a shot he absorbed, but Carlyle said he expects him to return Tuesday.
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