By AJ Manderichio
The Ducks held an optional practice this afternoon at Honda Center after flying out of Detroit last night and arriving in Southern California.
The Game 6 overtime loss at Joe Louis Arena forced a winner-take-all Game 7 tomorrow night at Honda Center. While the Ducks were frustrated after last night’s result, the team discussed the excitement surrounding the final game of the series.
“When you’re a kid, you have dreams that you’re playing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs,” Corey Perry said. “That’s the fun part of the hockey. You dream about Game 7s and to be that one guy to step up [and win one] is pretty special.”
“You don’t get many opportunities like this,” Cam Fowler said. “You try and cherish that moment and you look forward to it. It’s another game of hockey, but the stakes are raised a little bit.
“I’m looking forward to it. No butterflies, just excitement.”
Bruce Boudreau has both played and coached in Game 7, and believes playing carries less pressure.
“When you wake up, and it’s a Game 7 as a player, you can’t wait to get to the rink and put the stuff on and go out on the ice and just dream of scoring the winning goal,” he said.
“Game 7 coaching, it’s more anxiety. You don’t want to make the wrong decisions. You don’t want to make the wrong decisions. It’s not about the positive feelings. You don’t want to be the one making the mistakes that cost your team the game.”
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf agreed.
“It’s fun. If you can’t enjoy it, then you’re in the wrong sport. These are situations that many of us have been in, and some of us will be in for the first time. We’re excited about tomorrow.”
Boudreau stressed the need to shut down Detroit’s two most potent offensive players, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. The latter recorded his second straight multi-point game, netting the game-winning overtime goal.
“I think the biggest challenge we face is stopping Datsyuk and Zetterberg,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a secret that they are the two players that run the engine of the Red Wings, even though they have great players following up.”
Getzlaf pointed to the team’s late rally, coming from back from a 3-1 deficit with under three minutes remaining to tie the game, as a positive sign.
“We did a great job regrouping and coming back to where our team needs to be,” he said. “We scored a couple of goals late to get ourselves a chance to win. Those are good signs going into tomorrow.”
The Ducks are also excited to play the deciding game on home ice.
“You’d rather play at home,” Getzlaf said. “We have our fan support and everybody around you. You feel that much better going out on the ice. This has been a good building for us this year and we plan on sticking with it tomorrow.”
At least one Ducks player prepared himself for the inevitable ‘hero’ moment a Game 7 will bring.
“You try and put yourself in those moments and re-enact them,” Fowler said of his early memories playing hockey. “Put my buddy in goal, put 10 seconds on the clock, and see if I can score a goal to win the Stanley Cup or something like that. I’m sure everyone’s done it growing up. That’s what makes it fun.”
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