NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Randy Carlyle is giving his Anaheim Ducks a day to rest up. The time off also might help them forget a loss so ugly that Teemu Selanne blistered his teammates in the locker-room.
Nashville might not want the time off. The Predators, up 2-1 in the series, are known for their defence but have matched the vaunted Ducks’ power play success. Coach Barry Trotz kept them off the ice Monday with a two-day break before Game 4 on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old Selanne could be playing in his final post-season, and he ripped into his teammates after Sunday night’s 4-3 loss in which the Finn almost single-handedly rallied them by scoring twice 30 seconds apart to tie the game at 2-2. He had calmed down by Monday but said he looks at this series as if it is his last.
“You have to take advantage of every day,” Selanne said. “Every game is opportunity and just blowing it last night that really bothered me. Like I said, my attitude is like you give everything you have. When you play well and you lose, that’s hockey.”
Selanne said the Ducks talked before the post-season about how one bad penalty can throw off an entire series. Then the Ducks took only 10 shots through the first two periods Sunday night and were outshot 37-16 overall.
“You can’t have any nights off. I felt that (Sunday) night we didn’t, I hate to say that, but we didn’t’ want it. As a professional athlete, that’s the worst thing what you can really say,” Selanne said.
Carlyle said Selanne showed responsibility by speaking up. The coach gave the Ducks the day off after some review over lunch Monday.
“We showed signs of a very tired hockey club” Sunday night, Carlyle said. “I don’t know if it’s physically, emotionally or mentally. We showed signs we didn’t really have what was required to compete in the hockey game for long stretches. So today’s about, ‘Whoa, just forget about it for today. Tomorrow we go back to work.'”
The Ducks also looked lost with left-wing Bobby Ryan sitting out the first of his two-game suspension, their second-best shooter. Carlyle started Brandon McMillan in that spot, then moved Matt Beleskey up midway through the game.
But Anaheim, the NHL’s third-best unit on the power play during the regular season, has had trouble staying out of the box so far. Nashville ranked 26th in the league with the man advantage, converting a mere 15.2 per cent of chances with the man advantage.
In this series, the Predators have scored as many power play goals (4) as the Ducks (4) on five more chances, and it’s a huge improvement over a year ago when Nashville went 1-for-27 with the man advantage in losing to Chicago in six games.
“If we’re within striking distance of what they’re doing on the special teams, I feel we have a chance to win then,” Trotz said.
Nashville defenceman Ryan Suter credits the improvement to better play and more chances.
“We haven’t had that element in the past playoffs, so I think that is huge for us. We have to continue to work hard and try to draw penalties and hopefully cash in,” Suter said.
Mike Fisher thinks the Predators are moving the puck around a little better as well. Captain Shea Weber has two power-play goals, while Martin Erat put Nashville ahead 1-0 with his power play goal Sunday night. Fisher said the Ducks are trying to close in on the Predators as quickly as possible.
“When you do that, you move it, you are going to get space, and you are going to get opening,” Fisher said. “We manage to do that and find guys, Weber is getting quite a few shots and Suter is making some good plays back there.”
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said they must play better on the penalty kill and win the special teams’ battles to win the series. Asked if the Predators were embellishing on hits to draw penalties, Getzlaf said a “little bit.”
“It’s tough. The game’s meant to be played hard and played on the edge for sure. I don’t fault that at all.” Getzlaf said. “I think that it should be there, and that’s where you should play the game. And I can’t fault the referees because they’re calling the stuff that they see,” Getzlaf said.
“If a guy’s going down easier than he should be, it’s tough for them to make the call and make that distinction between those.”
The Predators obviously disagree in what’s been a very physical and uptempo series. Trotz thought Selanne should have been called for slashing when he snapped Weber’s stick with Nashville on the power play at the end of Sunday night’s game. Trotz called Ducks forward Corey Perry, the NHL’s scoring leader in the regular season, a very talented player.
“But he walks the line every game, and that’s the good and the bad of it I guess,” Trotz said.
Selanne is focused on the Ducks and thinks the time off will help a group of smart guys get back to their level of hockey.
“I’m expecting that Wednesday’s going to be new Ducks,” Selanne said.