Ducks youth stepping up
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau would like to argue against his team’s youngest players being the "unsung heroes."
Rookies Hampus Lindholm, Patrick Maroon, Frederik Andersen and second-year player Kyle Palmieri might not be as well known as others in the locker room just yet, but in Anaheim, Boudreau’s known all along what he’s had.
Their strong playoff performances in the first game of the 2014 postseason is simply par for the course.
"It’s only Game 1, but any guy on an Eastern (Conference) team is looking at our roster going, ‘Who’s this guy, who’s that guy? Oh my god, where did he come from?’" Boudreau said. "Right now, we like it that way."
Maroon, who scored two goals in the regular season finale and had an assist in Wednesday night’s Game 1 win, was someone Boudreau knew about when he was the head coach in Washington D.C. when the 25-year-old left winger was in the Philadelphia Flyers’ system. Andersen was so good in his rookie season that he was handed the backup job full time when the Ducks’ traded away Viktor Fasth.
Palmieri, also a left winger, has played in only seven postseason games and now has six points after his goal less than two minutes into Wednesday’s game.
"He’s a playoff guy," Boudreau said. "He was last year…He’s done it before, in other leagues in the playoffs, so it doesn’t surprise me."
How Freddie fared
A day removed from Andersen’s first career postseason win in goal, the consensus is that it was a worthy performance.
"I thought he played really solid," Boudreau said. "You’re not going to stop the back door goal and the second one was screened in and the third one was a great tip. Anything that he could see that he got in front of he stopped."
Boudreau gave no indication as to whether or not he had considered starting veteran goaltender Jonas Hiller or the other rookie, John Gibson, in Friday night’s second game of the series. But he also wasn’t ready to name Andersen the starter just yet, only saying, "There’s a good chance."
For Andersen’s part, there’s still no nerves. He’s never had any nerves when it comes to hockey, even when making the transition from the European game in his native Denmark, to coming to the U.S. He’s just not a person that gets nervous easily. Even-keeled most of the time, when asked the last time he felt uneasy about anything in or out of the rink, he could think of only one thing.
"Maybe my driver’s license test over here," Andersen said. "It was actually pretty easy but I didn’t know what I was going into."
Top line left wing Matt Beleskey left Wednesday night’s game in the third period with an undisclosed lower-body injury and did not skate Thursday. His status is day-to-day.
"It’s going to be every morning, I come in and see how I feel," Beleskey said. "It’s playoff time. That’s about it."
Since he did not skate Thursday, if he doesn’t take morning skate with the team before Friday’s game it’s unlikely that he will play, per team rules. Should that be the case, Palmieri is a likely replacement as he skated with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry after linemate Dustin Penner was traded to the Capitals the day before the deadline.
However, Boudreau has made no decision. The depth at the forward position gives him several options.
"We haven’t had the same lineup in a row all year so I don’t think it’s going to affect us that much," Boudreau said. "Even though we’re going to miss Matt if he doesn’t play, because he’s been playing well."