On how Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler’s absences affect game planning for Anaheim:
It doesn’t really affect the game plan. When Getzlaf’s playing, he factors in a lot of situations – faceoffs, power play, penalty killing, five-on-five. He’s a dominant player in the game with his size and his skill, so we’ve just got to be aware about that. But, in terms of the Ducks, there’ll still be a really strong team game. They’re a very aggressive forechecking team. In terms of getting ready for them, lots of changes. Their defense is getting healthy again. They’ve got big guys back there who can skate, they’re very aggressive and they’re a big part of their team. Getzlaf not being in doesn’t really change the game plan. Just, he’s a player, when he does play, we’re very aware of.
On the Freeway Faceoff rivalry:
If you look, both teams have been very competitive in the division. We’ve met in the playoffs several times in recent years, and it encourages more of a rivalry there because we’re standing in each other’s way. The Ducks have had an awful lot of success in the division in the regular season, and we pretty much know if we want to move on at any point we have to go through them, and they have to go through us. The points are big. Obviously the top three in the division is what everybody’s trying to get to, so those points against each other, they do become big points. Everyone talks about four-point games, well, they really are. If you can get points from your division opponent, they’re big points.
On benefits to the process of incorporating younger players into the fold when the team is winning:
Well, I think injuries really forced some of those young guys into more important minutes. When Carter went down, Kempe created a lot more opportunity, and I think with any young player, you want to see them take advantage of those opportunities, and we felt at the time it was next man up. There are other guys that are waiting to play more that wanted to play more, that wanted to play, and we thought guys really took advantage of those opportunities. Iafallo’s taken advantage of an opportunity, Kempe’s taken advantage of an opportunity, Andreoff came in with Cliffy getting hurt. He’s taken advantage of an opportunity, so there’s been some good results from players that have been given increased minutes, and the fact that they’ve had some success in those situations I think helps their confidence, and I think our veteran group has done a really good job of that, with those younger players, in terms of insulating them with support. Ty and Tanner, their games have been really solid lately. Kopi and Brownie, their games have been really solid. Shoresy and Lewie, their games have been really solid, so I think that really helps a young player a lot, and might even help them to produce when those guys have their own games in order. [Reporter: The leaders and the atmosphere seem very conducive.] Like when any team wins, it’s pretty easy to have excitement about your team. I mean, we play the game to win. So when you’re fortunate to have success, it’s only going to brood more energy for the group. But it’s been challenging and tough. We lost a game in overtime the other night, we know this is going to be a really tough game, so we’ve really worked hard to try and get the guys back to neutral and get ready to push ahead and not get too far ahead of ourselves.
On whether getting Marian Gaborik back on the ice with the group is a “good sign”:
It’s a good sign. I mean, there’s no timetable for his return or anything. We’re going to take our time with him. He’s had a lengthy absence from playing, so I think it’s important, one, he’s healthy, two, he gets in game shape, and three, he gets his timing back before we even think about a timeline.
-Lead photo via Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images