Just drop the puck already.
The Anaheim Ducks know the history, and don’t really want to talk about it anymore.
In the last four seasons they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs at home in Game 7. Now they face the same win-or-go golf scenario Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers.
Only four players remain from the start of the streak in 2013: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Andrew Cogliano. What was thought to be the key problem for the choking, Bruce Boudreau, is now gone, and replaced by Randy Carlyle.
Carlyle, Getzlaf, and Perry were on hand for the team’s last Game 7 win. It was 2006 in Calgary. The then-Mighty Ducks beat the Flames, 3-0. After sweeping the Colorado Avalanche the next round, Anaheim met up with the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final. The Oilers beat the Mighty Ducks, only to lose in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. That was the last time the Oilers were in the playoffs.
History would say that both teams have something to prove, but in reality, the most pressure is on the Ducks. Everyone remembers the team that chokes, just ask the San Jose Sharks.
“We’re going to be better than we were in the last game, and that should be very easy for us to take that approach because we couldn’t be any worse in our minds,” said Carlyle. “It doesn’t take rocket science to figure that we’ve got to have a much better start than we did in our last one.”
The Ducks were embarrassed in Edmonton by losing 7-1 in Game 6. In the first period, the team gave up five goals against. John Gibson was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots in over eight minutes.
Getting the first goal – in the first period – would go a long, long way for Anaheim. Not only does it calm the nerves of the players, but it’ll put Honda Center at ease, too. The fans are just as anxious to get this streak over with as the players.
Like all things Ducks, it won’t be easy. Thus far, they’ve been shutout in the first period five of six games against the Oilers.
With Ryan Kesler on Connor McDavid, and for now, Getzlaf attempting to defend ‘Duck Hunter’ Leon Draisaitl, the offense might have to come from someone unexpected.
Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell have 23 points combined, the rest of the Ducks have 27. Considering all the new faces in the lineup, there’s a good chance it will be someone new.
“In the playoffs, in the pressure situations, there’s always opportunities for somebody to be a hero,” said Carlyle. “Our expectations are we need a team effort and it’s not just dependent on one or two individuals.”
Kevin Bieksa skated with the team this morning; however, he has yet to be cleared by doctors. Carlyle hinted that it could happen before puck drop.
Patrick Eaves and Logan Shawn are doubtful. Forward Ondrej Kase is a game-time decision. Nate Thompson is expected to be in the lineup after taking Tuesday off as a ‘maintenance day.’ The team called Sam Carrick up from San Diego as a just-in-case measure for Thompson.
It’s situations like these that Ducks GM Bob Murray felt his team was better suited in the hands of the ‘proven winner’ in Carlyle.
The complaints of the former coach were that he was flustered when the stakes were high. There were too many snap decisions that left his club second-guessing themselves at the worst possible moment.
“For me, ninety percent of the time I believe that it’s to go status quo,” added Carlyle. “Just don’t change what we’re doing. I believe that is better suited because as soon as you start to change things then there’s this hint of … ‘why, why, why,’ [on the bench].”
“Hopefully [Carlyle] can carry that calm demeanor throughout the game and run the bench the same way he would if it was Game 1,” said Ryan Getzlaf. “You have to be able to deal with the workload in a professional manner, not a manner of reacting to things. It’s a matter of dealing with it the way you wanted to ahead of time.”
Saying all that is way easier than actually doing it.
“It’s about playing hockey,” said Ryan Getzlaf. “At the end of the day, we’re going out on the ice and we have to play better than the team over there, and if we don’t do that we’re going to lose.”
Easy as that, right? Now just drop the puck.
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