Carlyle played right-winger Joe Motzko, who has a total of seven games experience in the NHL, and rookie centre Ryan Carter in Sunday’s crucial Game 5. The Ducks won 2-1 in overtime.
Carter, who spent the entire season with Anaheim’s AHL farm team in Portland, had never played an NHL game until being inserted into the lineup for Game 4 on Thursday.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Carter, a 23-year-old from St. Paul, Min., said prior to the Ducks playing the Red Wings in Tuesday’s Game 6. “It’s one of hockey’s highest stages. If I get to play in the regular season (next year) it would make those games less pressure filled.”
Detroit’s Mike Babcock has used youngsters like rookie Finnish centre Valtteri Filppula and forward Tomas Kopecky.
Filppula, 23, played 73 games with the Red Wings during the regular season. Kopecky, also a rookie, was put in the lineup for Game 3. The 25-year-old hadn’t played since breaking his left clavicle during a December game in Chicago.
Babcock said young players have to be tested in the heat of battle.
“In the new NHL, where there’s a cap, you’ve just got to develop guys,” he said. “You find out who you want in your organization and who you don’t.”
Carlyle said any player in a team’s system has been involved in big games somewhere in their career.
“Obviously the stakes are much higher (here),” he said. “We tell them just give us what you do best. Don’t be anybody that you’re not.
“We ask for strong defensive play and we ask for a trusting hockey player. We think with our young players, the experience they’ve had previously and not forcing them into situations that they possibly can’t survive, is the best way.”
Carter, who the Ducks signed as a free agent last summer, said it’s important not to be overwhelmed by the thought of being in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Throughout your life, being out there in the last minute of an important game, those situations help mould you and make you kind of relax and confident on the ice,” said Carter, who had 16 goals and 36 points with Portland in 76 games. “I’m not out in those situations now but it rolls over to your regular shift.”
Motzko, 27, of Bemidji, Min., was acquired by Anaheim in a Jan. 26 minor-league trade with Columbus. He had one goal with the Blue Jackets this season, then scored 15 goals and added 14 assists in 34 games to lead Portland in scoring.
One of the most difficult things for him is to harness the energy and excitement.
“We’re thrown in a situation where they want us to create some energy, create some havoc out there,” he said. “We have to find a fine line between going crazy and staying within ourselves and the system.”
Motzko crossed that line when he took holding penalty late in Sunday’s third period.
“It was the longest two minutes of my life,” he said.
Motzko played six minutes, 16 seconds Sunday and was credited with three hits. Carter played 4:40 and had one hit.
Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf said the young players have done their jobs well.
“They’ve done great,” said Getzlaf. “They’ve stepped into a situation where it’s a pretty intense environment.
“We don’t need them to do huge things. We need them to do the little things well. I thought they did a great job of creating energy.”