Ducks Ready to Go in Game 6
But they know they'll have to be even better than they were in Game 5 to stay alive in the series
By Adam Brady
|The Ducks hope to not give up as many scoring chances as they did in Game 5, when J.S. Giguere was forced to make 40 saves.
DALLAS – While his Anaheim Ducks team got new life from their series-saving Game 5 victory at Honda Center, head coach Randy Carlyle knows they must be even better when they face the Dallas Stars tonight in Game 6.
“I’m sure both coaches were looking at it and saying there were too many quality scoring chances in the hockey game,” said Carlyle, touching on the 42 shots on goal the Ducks allowed. “We took five straight penalties in the first period and gave them a lot of momentum. We’ve been saying it and saying it and saying it about the penalties. But maybe they’re hard of hearing.”
Carlyle was laughing on that last line, but the rash of penalties has been a concern for the Ducks team in this series, and is a carryover from their league lead in that category during the regular season. The Ducks allowed the Stars eight goals on 20 power play opportunities in the first three games (two of which were Anaheim losses). But Dallas was 0 of 7 in the 5-2 Ducks victory in Game 5 and 0 for 6 in the Stars win in Game 4.
While the team is pleased with the ability to kill the penalties, the number of opportunities is still a concern, as Anaheim’s physical brand of play has gone overboard at times.
“We have to play our strengths and just go for it, but that obviously includes being smart,” said Scott Niedermayer “There is not much left to be said about that.”
Carlyle has had plenty to say about it: “It’s given us some aggravation. But it’s a long series and things start to equal out. Faceoffs and clears are a huge area for our hockey club on the penalty kill. We’re not clearing the puck when we have the opportunity. That usually gives the other team a scoring chance or you’re pulling the thing out of your net.”
Making adjustments in this series has been a frequent task for Carlyle and his coaching staff, as they Ducks have used 17 different line combinations in the series. That included a move in Game 5 that saw checking line center Samuel Pahlsson moved to a scoring line with Chris Kunitz and Teemu Selanne with rookie Ryan Carter filling in Pahlsson’s slot next to Todd Marchant and Travis Moen. Pahlsson was on the ice for two of Anaheim’s goals in Game 5.
“He’s been in a checking role for us, but he’s provided big goals in big games in the past,” Carlyle said of Pahlsson. “We have had some ups and downs as far as generating offense, but I thought if you put a guy like Sammy in a situation where he could play some offensive minutes for you, it adds a little more balance throughout the lineup.”
|Rob Niedermayer had hoped to be back after missing four straight games with concussion-like symptoms, but said this morning, "It's still not quite good enough yet."
That lineup will again be without winger Rob Niedermayer tonight, who is still feeling the “concussion-like symptoms” he suffered after a collision in Game 2. Unlike for Games 3 and 4, Niedermayer did accompany the Ducks travel party to Dallas. He worked out off the ice with the team when they arrived yesterday afternoon, but did not feel good enough to skate this morning and was relegated to working out on the exercise bike.
“I feel a little bit better, but it’s still not quite good enough yet,” Niedermayer said. “I came here hoping that I would feel good enough to go to the skate and go from there. I just didn’t feel good enough to go out there today.”
Niedermayer said he has felt improvement in the days following the injury, but not to a point where he can get on the ice for the first time since that game. “I didn’t feel too good after it happened, but after about three or four days I was coming around,” he said. “But with even a little exercise, it doesn’t feel as good. It’s a little bit of nausea, but mostly a bad headache.”
Niedermayer was unable to put a timetable on when he might be ready to return. “Hopefully, if things keep going the way they are, I’ll be ready to go pretty quick,” he said. “I’m just day to day right now. If I feel good enough, I’ll go skate and we’ll go from there.”
Meanwhile, the lacerated thigh that plagued fellow winger Corey Perry for six weeks has apparently improved greatly, as he returned to the lineup in Game 4 and scored Anaheim’s first goal in Game 5.
|“We need to go out, have a bit of fun, work hard and give it the best we can,” said Scott Niedermayer. “I would expect that we’ll come out with that energy again. There is really nothing to save it for. We want to play another day."|
“Everything feels fine,” Perry said this morning. “It’s the playoffs, so it’s got to feel good, right?”
Perry admitted he was disappointed with the way he performed initially. “My first game back, I didn’t play the way I wanted to and it was kind of frustrating,” he said. “I knew I had to come out Friday night and play my style of game. That’s what I have to do to be effective. It was probably better for me mentally to play back-to-back games. Health-wise, probably not. But it was good to be able to get right back to where I need to be into it.”
Perry and his Ducks teammates displayed the vigor expected of a team that had to win to keep their hopes alive in the series. And they know they need that same effort tonight in Game 6.
“We need to go out, have a bit of fun, work hard and give it the best we can,” said Scott Niedermayer. “I would expect that we’ll come out with that energy again. There is really nothing to save it for. We want to play another day."