Anaheim Ducks

Playoff infirmary report: Who’s hurt, who’s coming back?

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Patrick Kane, Chicago (broken clavicle)

Originally thought to be out for 12 weeks, Kane cut his recovery time nearly in half and will suit up for Game 1 of Chicago’s series against Nashville. Kane hasn’t played since Feb. 24 but was lighting it up — as per usual — prior to getting hurt, with 64 points in 61 games.

Mark Giordano, Calgary (torn biceps)

There was some optimism earlier in the week when the Flames captain resumed skating and told reporters “I feel like hopefully the rehab is going better than expected.” That said, the injury and subsequent surgery came with a 4-5 month recovery period, so any possible Giordano comeback would come in much later playoff rounds.

Max Pacioretty, Montreal (upper-body)

Pacioretty, Montreal’s leading goalscorer with 37, has been out since getting knocked into the boards versus Florida in the third-final game of the season. He’s been ruled out of Game 1 against Ottawa and Habs head coach Michel Therrien is playing it coy about a potential return date.

Kris Letang, Pittsburgh (concussion)

Letang is unlikely to return this season following a hit from Arizona captain Shane Doan in late March.

Christian Ehrhoff, Pittsburgh (concussion)

Though he’s been cleared for contact, the Pens d-man won’t be available for Game 1. Neither will fellow blueliner Derrick Pouliot.

Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders (undisclosed)

Details on the d-man’s health are far and few between. Will the Isles say what his injury is? No. Have they given a timetable for return? No. All we really know is that Hamonic hasn’t been on the ice at all since taking a hipcheck from Pittsburgh’s Rob Scuderi last Friday, and his status is uncertain.

Kevin Klein, New York Rangers (broken arm)

Out since mid-March, the Rangers blueliner was originally expected to be ready for the playoffs — but now it sounds like his Game 1 status is in question. Klein also didn’t practice on Wednesday, casting further doubt on his ability to suit up for the opener against Pittsburgh.

Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay (upper-body)

When the Bolts d-man was hurt in late March, the club put a 3-4 week timetable on his return. As such, Garrison likely won’t be available for the early parts of the Detroit series; that said, the Lightning did get some good news as fellow blueliners Braydon Coburn and Andrej Sustr looked as though they’d be back in.

Mike Fisher, Nashville (lower-body)

The veteran Preds center missed the final two games of the year, but will draw in for Game 1 against Chicago.

John Gibson, Anaheim (upper-body)

After picking up a knock in practice, Gibson didn’t skate on Wednesday — which points to Frederik Andersen getting the start for Anaheim in Game 1 of its series against the Jets. At this point, it’s worth monitoring this situation to see if Gibson is even healthy enough to back up, as the Ducks have recalled veteran Jason LaBarbera from AHL Norfolk.

Mathieu Perreault, Winnipeg (lower body)

Injured in last Thursday’s shootout loss to Colorado, Perreault hasn’t been practicing or skating but, per Jets head coach Paul Maurice, he is getting better.

“We don’t want to turn it into a bigger problem than it is,” Maurice said, per the Free Press. “He’ll get back out on the ice. He may play based on how he feels after he skates. I expect him to go sooner rather than later.”

Justin Abdelkader, Detroit (hand)

Injured blocking a shot late in the season, Abdelkader is listed as questionable for Game 1 against Tampa Bay. His official status will be announced following the morning skate.

PHT Morning Skate: EA Sports predicts the Ducks will win the cup

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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.

EA Sports’ NHL 15 simulation engine predicts the Anaheim Ducks will win their second Stanley Cup in franchise history this spring defeating the New York Rangers in seven games. According to the simulator, Anaheim will require seven games in each round knocking off the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Minnesota Wild before dispatching Rangers in the final. Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf will take home the Conn Smythe Trophy scoring nine goals and 26 points in 28 games.(EA Sports)

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In attempt to reduce the number of Habs’ fans attending games in Ottawa during the first round of the playoffs, the Senators pulled a page out of the book of both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators and restricted who could purchase tickets. However, the restrictions on billing addresses have created a huge secondary market online. (The Hockey News)

Another day, another Calgary Flames-themed parody song. This time a couple of Flames’ fans teamed up for a Flames-themed rendition of ‘It’s all about the Bass’.

This probably isn’t the Stanley Cup Canadiens fans are hoping for this spring, but a Montreal bar has made a replica of the trophy out of bacon.

PGA Tour member, and noted Calgary Flames fan, Graham DeLaet has added a sign of his allegiance to his clubs:

(Photo courtesy EA Sports)

Pressing Playoff Question: Which coaches are coaching for their jobs?

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Ken Hitchcock

Hitch has been on notice since last year’s opening-round exit — St. Louis’ second in as many years — and he confirmed it earlier this month, explaining that his future is tied to getting out of Round 1.

“There’s always going to be a question for players and coaches until we win a first round. But it’s a question I’m not afraid to answer,” Hitchcock said, per the Post-Dispatch. “I don’t know the answer right now but this team is built to go long in series, long in games. We’ve won a lot of games late. We’ve been at our best in the second and third periods. We know we can go the distance.

“Like everyone else I won’t know until it plays out but I’m looking forward to answering the questions.”

St. Louis is 8-13 over its last three playoffs, a record that gnaws at management. The Blues have spent plenty of money on its core group of players, and added high-priced free agent Paul Stastny following the Chicago ouster. The pieces are in place for a Cup run — now — which is why Hitchcok was delivered a message in the form of a one-year extension last May.

That message?

“Making the playoffs no longer is good enough,” Blues GM Armstrong said. “There’s some franchises that are losing in the first round that had good years. We’re not one of them.

“We’re a franchise that lost in the first round that did not meet its expectations.”

Mike Johnston

Consider, for a moment, what Johnston said upon getting hired in Pittsburgh:

“The bottom-line expectation for me is that, from training camp through the first part of the season, everything we do is setting the table for the playoffs. The score is relevant, but it’s not as relevant as the habits that we are going to have to make us successful in the playoffs.

“This is a group that wants to win. They’ve won the Stanley Cup, and I believe they want to do it again.”

The first-year bench boss set the bar with those remarks, and it remains to be seen what happens if he falls short.

We almost got a preview of it on the final day of the regular season, only for Pittsburgh to beat Buffalo and secure the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. While it was hardly the type of qualification many — including Johnston — envisioned, the Pens did make it to the dance (and there is something to be said for that, especially since L.A. and Boston didn’t.)

But as Johnston said, his job wasn’t about getting Pittsburgh into the playoffs. It was about doing something once they got there — and now, things get interesting.

Last week, Pens GM Jim Rutherford didn’t give Johnston a vote of confidence, though that was because Rutherford doesn’t like votes of confidence. Regarding the head coach’s job security, Rutherford said Johnston did “a good job under difficult circumstances.” CEO David Morehouse said much of the same, explaining that “we never even had discussions about people’s jobs,” adding, “we’re very happy to be where we are.”

Management is giving all the right answers, but it’s telling that people are asking the questions.

Bruce Boudreau

Boudreau has a great track record in the regular season, with 363 career wins and a Jack Adams trophy on his resume.

Boudreau does not, however, have the same track record in the playoffs.

His lifetime mark — 27-30, a .474 winning percentage — includes just three series wins and zero appearances beyond the second round.

What’s worrisome this year is that a recurring issue throughout Boudreau’s career — goaltending — is once again a factor. He’s yet to decide between John Gibson or Frederik Andersen as his postseason starter, carrying on a rich and colorful tradition:

• In 2009, his second playoff appearance with Washington, Boudreau yanked Jose Theodore in favor of Semyon Varlamov.

• In 2010, after vowing “there is no short leash” for Theodore, Boudreau yanked him in favor of Varlamov. Again.

• In 2014, he played three different netminders. Andersen started the Dallas series, only for Boudreau to shift to Jonas Hiller. Hiller then beat the Stars, started the L.A. series, only for Boudreau to go back to Andersen… and the Danish netminder promptly got hurt. But instead of going back to Hiller, Boudreau threw in Gibson, fresh off a recall from the AHL.

• The Ducks blew a 3-2 series lead, and lost to the Kings in Game 7.

History, as they say, has a way of repeating itself. Wonder what happens in Anaheim if it does.

Have to mention…

Mike Babcock, who isn’t so much coaching for his job as the Red Wings are playing for him to remain their coach… Jack Capuano, who could be feeling some heat if the Isles don’t show much in the opening playoff round.

Pressing Playoff Question: Which teams should be most worried about their goaltending?

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Short answer?

Several of them.

The long answer is, well, longer — just consider what’s about to transpire. Goalies in Ottawa (Andrew Hammond), Detroit (Petr Mrazek), Vancouver (Eddie Lack), Winnipeg (Ondrej Pavelec), Minnesota (Devan Dubnyk) and Tampa Bay (Ben Bishop) will all be making their postseason debuts, and we still don’t know who’ll start in St. Louis (Brian Elliott or Jake Allen) or Anaheim (John Gibson or Frederik Andersen). Nashville’s Pekka Rinne ended the year mired in a slump, and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury’s postseason struggles are well documented.

So yeah, just a few goaltending concerns out there.

Let’s start with the unresolved situations in St. Louis and Anaheim. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock hinted Elliott may be the guy based on his body of work against Minnesota this year, but refused to confirm anything — possibly because Allen was the better goalie down the stretch. Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau was even more coy, opting not to elaborate on Gibson’s health (he’s dealing with an injury) or how it could impact the starting goalie gig.

Clear as mud. Moving along…

In Vancouver, head coach Willie Desjardins won’t confirm the obvious — it’ll be Lack, not Ryan Miller, who’ll open against Calgary. Lack took over for the injured Miller in mid-February and impressively backstopped the Canucks to the postseason, with Miller getting just one start over the final two months of the season, a shaky 6-5 OT win over Edmonton in the season finale.

The real question with Lack is the length of his leash. As mentioned above, he’s never made a postseason appearance — a far cry from Miller, who has over 50 on his resume, and was Vancouver’s starter for the majority of the season.

The Vancouver situation is not unlike Ottawa’s. There, Andrew “the Hamburglar” Hammond will roll into the playoffs as the club’s white-hot No. 1, on the heels of a remarkable regular season in which he lost just once — yeah, once — in regulation. But like with Lack, one has to wonder what happens if Hammond falters; sitting behind him is veteran Craig Anderson, who had himself a fine year (2.49 GAA, .923 save percentage) and, lest we forget, won a playoff round for Ottawa in 2013.

Detroit’s in a similar boat to the Canucks and Sens. Jimmy Howard, the No. 1 for most of this year, has been parked in favor of rookie Petr Mrazek. It’s a roll of the dice from Wings head coach Mike Babcock, who’ll be relying on Mrazek — he of the 40 career NHL games — over Howard, who has 45 career playoff games.

Once place with no playoff veteran is Winnipeg, where both Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson are headed to the postseason for the first time. Pavelec’s the No. 1 based on his clutch work down the stretch — the Czech netminder posted three consecutive shutouts to close out his year — but it’s important to note that, for long periods this season, Hutchinson was the Jets’ go-to guy and only had 10 fewer starts than Pavelec did.

Then there’s Tampa Bay and Minnesota.

There’s no question about who’s No. 1 — Bishop and Dubnyk are locked in — but certain unknowns remain. Bishop should’ve gained some much-needed playoff experience a year ago, only to miss the Lightning’s entire opening-round playoff loss to Montreal with a dislocated elbow. How will he respond to the pressure this year? The same question can be asked of Dubnyk who, with his 29th birthday just weeks away, is the oldest of the goalies making their playoff debuts (and the most improbable.)

Finally, there’s Rinne and Fleury. The former hasn’t been very sharp since the All-Star break, going 12-11-4 with a 2.48 GAA and .911 save percentage — a far cry from the Vezina-worthy numbers he posted in the first half. Fleury’s hardly been Pittsburgh’s problem, but he now finds himself in unfamiliar territory; with a defense wrecked by injury and an offense that’s struggling to score, the Pens almost need Fleury to go out and win them some games (as opposed to past years, when all they needed for was him not to lose ’em.)

Scrolling back, that’s 10 of 16 playoff teams mentioned in this article.

Think goaltending might be a hot topic this spring?

Advantage: Andersen? Ducks’ Gibson deals with injury

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The situation seems almost eerily familiar: the Anaheim Ducks have one of the best records in the NHL, yet they lack an obvious starting goalie. An injury might just make the decision for Bruce Boudreau, however.

John Gibson appears to be injured, which could give quite the advantage to Frederik Andersen, at least early on. Gibson (pictured) may have been injured during a Friday practice, the OC Register reports:

The Ducks are saying little about it at this point but Gibson may have been hurt during their practice Friday morning at Anaheim Ice before traveling to Phoenix.

There’s a chance that Andersen would have been the No. 1 guy anyway. There’s also the chance that Gibson won’t miss a single postseason game.

Still, it’s hard to deny the impression that Andersen gets the edge for now. If Ducks’ history repeats, we may just see both young goalies (or possibly veteran call-up Jason LaBarbera) before this coming postseason concludes.

Update: The Ducks made LaBarbera’s recall official.