By Adam Brady
LOS ANGELES - With the Ducks down 2-0 to the Kings and the series shifting to Staples Center, Bruce Boudreau will likely do some tinkering with his lineup.
Earlier, the Ducks sent winger Emerson Etem (who has gone scoreless in four playoff games) to Norfolk of the AHL and brought up defenseman Sami Vatanen, who could be on the ice for tonight’s Game 3. Meanwhile, all indications are that winger Kyle Palmieri will see his first action of the series, as he skated with Nick Bonino and Devante Smith-Pelly in skates yesterday and this morning.
"He's definitely an option," Boudreau said of Palmieri, who had 14 goals this season and, “I don't think he averaged more than 10 minutes a game.”
Boudreau said Palmieri could provide some firepower for a Ducks team that has only managed three goals in the series against red-hot LA goalie Jonathan Quick. “He's definitely got an above-average shot, and when he's feeling it, he's really good,” Boudreau said of Palmieri, who had five points in seven playoff games vs. Detroit last season. "He can skate, and for a non-tall guy, he's like a little fireplug out there. He's 200 pounds that can skate. He's not a soft player."
Palmieri had a goal in the opening game of the first round, but hasn’t played since Game 4 of that series with Dallas. He’s definitely raring to go tonight, especially in what will undoubtedly be an electric environment at Staples Center.
“It’s a huge game for us, and obviously for them as well,” Palmieri said. “You know the building is going to be excited. It’s their first time seeing Ducks-Kings in the playoffs, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere and we’ll hopefully get off to a good start tonight.”
Vatanen is another guy who could provide some offensive spark for Anaheim tonight. The 22-year-old had six goals and 21 points in 48 regular season games for the Ducks, who has not yet appeared in the postseason.
Boudreau touched on Vatanen’s puck-moving ability this morning, and said, “He’s not as big or physical as the rest of them, but he brings more of an offensive game than other guys. He’s been on our power play as much as he’s been up here. He’s been always played that position.”
The 5-10, 183-pound Vatanen had three assists in five playoff games with Norfolk before his call-up. He endured a nine-hour flight yesterday from St. John’s, Newfoundland (where the Admirals were playing their second round series) through Toronto and into LAX. But he said he’s ready to go tonight if Boudreau calls upon him.
“I just need to play my game, and maybe bring some goals,” Vatanen said. “We’ll see. Let’s just try and go out there and have some fun.
“Obviously it’s one of the dreams to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and maybe I’ll get a chance today. I’ve got to use it and play my game, enjoy it and help the team win.”
Palmieri acknowledged that it’s a must-win situation for the Ducks, who have to climb out of a bit of a hole after dropping Games 1 and 2 at Honda Center.
“There is definitely some desperation,” he said, “but it’s playoff time, so you go into every game with desperation. You never know when the momentum of a series will change. Hopefully tonight, that will be for us.”
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