If you’ve seen Emerson Etem cruising around Long Beach on a skateboard lately, get used to it. Etem, and the rest of the Ducks continue to have a lot of time on their hands.
After wrapping up their first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets in only six days, the Anaheim Ducks have had a lot more downtime than any are really used to around this time of year. So when the NHL finally released the schedule for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Tuesday morning, the restless Ducks thought they’d get a reprieve.
Not so, said the NHL. The scenario-based schedule still had more off-days than on-days. Game 1 is only a few short days away, slated for Thursday night at the Honda Center, but they’ll then have to wait two more days to play Game 2. And if Tampa Bay wins, they’ll have the same schedule in Calgary.
"I think everyone in here would rather play every other day like we did in the last series, because we’ve already had a lot of time off," said center Nate Thompson. "Even at the end of the season we had a lot of time off."
Even the junior hockey schedule has more than eight games in one month. But, everyone can agree that it’s still better to be preparing for games than not.
"I’m ansty. So I’ve got to believe they’re antsy," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "But we’ve been doing it for a month now, so what’s another day?"
For the full Second Round schedules and broadcast info, make sure to visit Playoff Central: http://t.co/FmWk5nSWCh
Some players, like Thompson, are anxious after sitting out the first round. He’s now fully healthy, more than available, and ready to ditch his suit and seat in the pressbox. But for others, they realize the schedule is out of their control and therefore remain unworried.
"You always have positive things and negative things about every situation," said defenseman Hampus Lindholm. "I’m just kind of doing what I’ve been doing all year: cruising."
With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ early exit from the playoffs, first-year general manager Jim Rutherford held his season-ending press conference Tuesday morning, and expressed some regret for the trade that sent defenseman Simon Despres to Anaheim and former Penguins’ blueliner Ben Lovejoy back to the organization that drafted him.
"The one move that I questioned was trading a young defenseman for a veteran defenseman," Rutherford told reporters.
Rutherford further explained that he did have some hesitancy in the deal, but ultimately the need for an experienced right-handed shot won out over the developing Despres. Lovejoy ate up minutes in Pittsburgh, was everything the Pens wanted and needed at the time and is greatly missed in the Anaheim dressing room, but Despres, an aggressively physical defensemen, was influential in the Ducks’ sweep over the Jets.
While their numbers on the ice are remarkably similar, there’s two off the ice that aren’t: Despre is eight years younger and $200,000 cheaper than Lovejoy.
On paper it seems like a good deal for both teams, but it appears as though Rutherford wouldn’t mind having that one prospect back.
Calgary will not travel to Anaheim until after they skate in their own arena Wednesday morning, so the man of the hour, former Ducks’ goalie Jonas Hiller, will dodge a very large bullet on the heaviest media day of the series.
But Hiller did talk to reporters in Calgary this week, and the goaltender that still holds most of the Ducks’ records was still as media savvy as ever, playing the politically-correct card when it came to talking about facing his former team.
"I don’t need extra motivation to prove them wrong," he said. "I think at the end, there were decisions made. Sometimes you can influence them, sometimes a little less. At the end, I’m really happy how it turned out. Otherwise I couldn’t have lived through what we have been through with this team in Calgary this season, which has been a great story."