Anaheim Ducks

In the playoffs, sometimes it comes down to the ‘bounces’

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By and large, Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson is happy with how the season went.

He just wishes a few more bounces had gone his team’s way in the playoffs, where, by his count, the Habs hit 13 posts on their way to being eliminated in the second round.

“In order to have success in the playoffs, you kind of have to get those bounces once in a while,” Molson said, per the Montreal Gazette. “I look back to 1993 when we won the Cup. Ten of our 16 wins were in overtime. So the stars were aligned for us that year, and this year wasn’t our year.”

Luck, for lack of a better word (perhaps a better word is “randomness”), is always a controversial subject when it comes to hockey. And with so much parity in today’s NHL, it’s been coming up more and more, if only to try and explain why some good teams win and other good teams don’t.

Nobody’s saying that luck is everything. Obviously it’s not, but just look at the Western Conference Final. With a couple of overtime bounces, the Anaheim Ducks could’ve already eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks.

Instead, the series is tied 2-2.

“When you lose in overtime, you lose in overtime,” said Ryan Kesler, whose Anaheim side has lost twice that way in the series. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. One bounce here or there, it’s a different story. So we are where we are.”

And just in case you were going to accuse Kesler of making excuses, here’s Chicago’s Andrew Desjardins: “One bounce here and there, you never know. … I think it’s playoff hockey. It seems like right now it’s a tight game. I think that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Overtime records of past five Stanley Cup champs

2014 Los Angeles: 5-2
2013 Chicago: 5-2
2012 Los Angeles: 4-0
2011 Boston: 4-1
2010 Chicago: 3-1

Boudreau, Ducks considering lineup changes ahead of Game 5

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With the Anaheim Ducks dropping Game 4 5-4 in double-overtime on Saturday night coach Bruce Boudreau admitted he’s considering possible lineup changes for Game 5 tonight at the Honda Center.

“We’re mulling it over,” Boudreau said on Sunday. “I mean, (Chris) Wagner is an energy guy that would do good in a series like this. (Tomas) Fleischmann is a good veteran that we’ve had a great record when he’s in the lineup.”

Wagner has not played since Game 2 of the Ducks’ first round series against the Winnipeg Jets. The 23-year-old rookie has averaged 5:33 in time on ice in these playoffs. Wagner appeared in nine regular season games with the Ducks registering a minus-2 rating while averaging 8:47 in ice time.

Fleischmann, who was acquired by the Ducks from the Florida Panthers in February, has not played since Game 5 of Anaheim’s second round series against the Calgary Flames. In four postseason games this spring the 31-year-old has one assist while averaging just over 10 minutes of ice time.

Boudreau is even considering changes to his blue line.

According to Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times, it could mean an appearance from James Wisniewski who has yet to play this postseason.

Wisniewski, who was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline, appeared in 13 games for the Ducks following the trade registering five assists and a minus-3 rating while averaging over 20 minutes in ice time.

“Even on defense, we’re thinking, Okay, is this the time? But we don’t want to make anything rash,” Boudreau said. “We’ll meet again tomorrow morning. I told the guys to all sleep on it.

“Except for three goals in the third period, defensively our team has been pretty darn good in the playoffs. So, I mean, it’s not a time to panic, it’s a time to believe.”

Puck drop tonight is at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

PHT Morning Skate: Barber cuts portrait of Lundqvist into fan’s hair

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Earlier this month a New York Rangers fan had a portrait of Chris Kreider shaved into his head. Ahead of Game 5 barber Joe Barajas was at it again this time shaving a portrait of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist into a fan’s head. (Puck Daddy)

The Anaheim Ducks’ three-goals in 37-seconds on Saturday night presented an opportunity for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to reflect on his playing days. Quenneville was a part of the 1979 Toronto Maple Leafs, which scored three times in a 23-second span. (Toronto Sun)

Entourage star Kevin Dillon took in Game 5 of the Lightning-Rangers series on Sunday night at MSG. (Sportsnet)

Don Cherry believes the Leafs should strip Dion Phaneuf of the captaincy. (Sportsnet)

Former NHLer Glen Murray developing reputation for developing talent. (The Boston Globe)

A Rangers fan had quite the jersey foul Sunday night at MSG. (Sporting News)

The NHL on NBC crew breaks down the keys to Ben Bishop’s success in Game 5:

Blackhawks’ Bickell says wear-and-tear goes both ways

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Plenty has been made about the Anaheim Ducks’ bigger bodies and perceived superior depth allowing them to grind down the Chicago Blackhawks. Still, it’s not as if playoff hockey is a walk in the park for the Ducks, either.

Ryan Kesler once again hammered the issue of hammering the Blackhawks, but his opponents largely dismissed any disadvantage to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I think it goes both ways,” Bryan Bickell said. “They are wearing us down, but they’re getting tired from wearing us down.”

That must be true, especially since both teams played a similar amount of games heading into this series.

Sure, laying on the body can grind down an opponent, but the team delivering a lopsided amount of hits traditionally finds itself chasing the puck more than their “victims.” With that, less puck possession can often mean being forced to block more shots.

Whatever the cause may be, it’s clear that the Ducks are blocking a lot of Blackhawks shot attempts. Here’s the game-by-game count:

Game 1: Ducks blocked shots:22 Blackhawks blocked shots:9
Game 2: Ducks:35 ‘Hawks:29
Game 3: Ducks:27 ‘Hawks:9
Game 4: Ducks:34 ‘Hawks:20

Through four games, the Ducks have blocked 118 shots compared to just 67 for the Blackhawks. Anaheim has generated a 220-158 hit advantage so far … is that a wash, then?

This is not to say that postseason hockey is any less of a grind. Instead, the point seems clear: both teams are ending up with plenty of bruises.

Related: Kesler thinks Ducks are wearing Blackhawks down

Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’

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Last night, the Chicago Blackhawks showed their resiliency in becoming the first team to win four multiple-overtime games in a single postseason. The Anaheim Ducks seem to believe that they can grind Chicago down, though.

On the subject of wear-and-tear, Ryan Kesler reiterated his plan to NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke.

“No human can withstand that many hits,” Kesler said.

With some help from a stat tweeted out by the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott, it looks as though the Ducks have generated a lopsided hit differential of 220-158 (Game 4 was pretty even, as Anaheim delivered 60 to Chicago’s 50 hits).

Combine the sheer body contact with the fact that the Blackhawks are needing to lean on top players more than the Ducks – one can debate how stark the difference is, as Joel Quenneville certainly has – and one can see where Kesler & Co. are coming from. Especially when you consider how many lengthy playoff runs the Blackhawks have been through in recent years. Perhaps that mileage adds up?

Of course, it’s also true that this isn’t Chicago’s first rodeo. The Blackhawks are accustomed to the challenges of the postseason, so perhaps the Ducks’ aggressiveness doesn’t make the sort of impact that Kesler may believe.

Ultimately, we’ll have to see how this series progresses, as hindsight may tell which side is “correct.”

Related: Kesler acknowledges the plan earlier in the series