In the first action in Finland, the Ducks meet Jokerit of the Finnish Elite League on Tuesday morning at Hartwall Arena.
Anaheim's final exhibition contest has special meaning for Teemu Selanne. Not only is he back in his hometown of Helsinki for the game, but Jokerit was the team he once starred for as a junior hockey player from 1988-1992.
Selanne is not the only Finnish player on the Ducks, as Saku Koivu and Toni Lydman are also back in their native country. Koivu is expected to play in his familiar second-line center for the game, while Lydman will not be able to participate as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery.
“It’s an opportunity for them to come home and for our hockey club to play in front of their fans, and to experience the Finnish culture,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “We hear about it all the time because the three of them have lots to say about how great it is in Finland, so now we’re getting a chance to live it.”
After arriving in Finland over the weekend, the Ducks took part in two days of practices in anticipation of their last preseason game. A win against Jokerit would give them a .500 record for the preseason, as the club went 3-4-0 in exhibitions games back in the United States. Anaheim's last game came at Honda Center, where the rival Kings took home a 3-1 victory last Friday.
Jokerit has won six Finnish Elite League championships in its history, with the last coming in 2002. The team has had a hot start this season, jumping to the top of the standings with a 6-0-1 record. A notable on their roster is former Duck forward Jarkko Ruutu, who played 23 games with Anaheim at the end of last season.
“They have a team that has been well-coached and put together, and they’ve very excited about their hockey club this year, so it’ll be a test for us,” Carlyle said. “It’s our last opportunity to get our team ready for the NHL season.”
The Ducks will open their 2011-12 schedule in the same building on Friday morning against the Buffalo Sabres. From there, they will travel to Stockholm, Sweden for a Saturday morning contest against the New York Rangers at Ericcson Globe.