Emery works out before, after practice; might practice with team Tuesday

Ducks goaltender Ray Emery, who has sat out the last two-plus games with a lower-body injury, skated before practice Monday and took shots after according to Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.

“Emery is skating,” Carlyle said. “Skated before practice and is now taking shots after practice. If he has a decent day he’ll probably skate with the team tomorrow.

“We are being conservative with this one. Today’s practice was quite lengthy and the ice deteriorates and we want to make sure the lower body is protected.”

One goalie that did practice Monday was Jonas Hiller, who is still trying to battle back from a head injury and corresponding vertigo that he has suffered with since late January. Hiller is feeling better but admits that he’s not quite sure how close he is to 100 percent.

“Some days I feel pretty well and some days I don’t see the puck very well,” Hiller said. “I’m on the ice and stopping shots every day so I’m not that far away but there are moments where I kind of don’t feel 100 percent and I don’t feel like I can help the team enough if I’m playing at 90 percent.”

Who’s in net? Carlyle not ready to say

The first question Ducks coach Randy Carlyle fielded Monday was about his starter in goal for Wednesday’s Game 1 with the Nashville Predators at Honda Center. Carlyle, as one would expect, was non-committal in his answer.

“I haven’t decided yet,” he said. “It could be any of the three of them.”

The three are Dan Ellis, who has started the last two games and won the NHL’s Third Star for his .964 save percentage and 1.21 goals against average in his last three games, Ray Emery – who was on fire before suffered a lower-body injury against San Jose April 6 – and Jonas Hiller, who was an All-Star but has only played twice since Feb. 2 due to a head injury.

Emery and Hiller are working their way back into playing shape from injuries, with Emery having a lower-body injury and Hiller still suffering effects from the head injury he suffered in late January.  Carlyle is happy with his options though.

“With Dan Ellis, look at his record since we’ve gotten him,” Carlyle said. “It’s been quite an amazing story and it wasn’t for Ray Emery winning six in a row Dan Ellis would have played (all of the games down the stretch). You have to go with the hot hand.

“(Hiller) seems to be improved. If the option is needed or necessary I would go to Jonas Hiller and it makes the decision more difficult as we go deeper in the playoffs.”

The unsettled goaltending situation is hardly new to Carlyle. In 2006, he made the call to go with the hot young goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, over the battle-tested Jean-Sebastien Giguere, a call that got the then-No. 6 seeded Ducks to the Western Conference finals. Giguere retook the net the next season, leading the Ducks to their only Stanley Cup championship.

“It’s not quite the same because back then we had a veteran in Giguere and a Conn Smythe winner that had a young guy in Bryz take the net from him,” Carlyle said. “It’s not the same situation this time around.

“Those decisions are tough ones and you are always going to hurt someone’s feelings and someone’s pride initially. But if the individual realizes that its nothing personal and can get past that, everything works out fine.”

Selanne stoked about Ducks’ trip to Finland

While Teemu Selanne skillfully avoided questions Monday about whether or not he’d be with the Ducks in their season-opening trip to Europe next season, the 40-year old future Hall of Famer was clearly excited about the Ducks playing the Buffalo Sabres October 7 in his hometown of Helsinki, Finland.

“It’s not going to affect my decision, but it will obviously be very interesting,” Selanne said after Monday’s practice. “It’s going to be a crazy experience and it’s a great hockey city, so it should be a lot of fun. I don’t know my whole situation yet but if I’m playing it’s going to be fun. We just don’t know that far.”

While Selanne is noncommittal to playing for the Ducks in Finland next October, he’s hardly the only Finn that dons a Ducks sweater. The team also features Helsinki native Jarko Ruutu as well as Saku Koivu and Toni Lydman, making the Ducks an extremely popular team in the Scandinavian country.

“We were there in (19)94 with Winnipeg and it was a huge deal even then and now we have so many Finns going that it will be even more special,” Selanne said. “The Ducks are the most favorite NHL team for them and if they had votes on who would be the “dream come true” team for them it would be us. So the whole thing is great.”

So great that Selanne will show up to celebrate even if he is not playing. That much he was willing to confirm Monday.

“I will be there,” he said.

Quickie Ducks practice notes

The Ducks had their morning skate today, two days before they start their NHL Western Conference first-round playoff series with the Nashville Predators. The biggest question has to do with the goaltending, as Dan Ellis, Ray Emery and Jonas Hiller all are possibilities to go Wednesday according to Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.

Emery, who has been out with a lower-body injury, skated before practice and took shots after practice ended today. If there are no ill effects Carlyle expects Emery to be skating with the team during the regular practice session Tuesday.

Bobby Ryan was back on the Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry line in practice today after being off that line during the last two games. Center Todd Marchant, who had missed the last two games with the flu, was back at practice today.

Ducks will open 2011-12 in Helsinki.

Teemu Selanne has heard the “one more year” chants from the fans. Now he might be hearing it from the NHL.

The league probably wouldn’t mind seeing the Finnish Flash on the ice in an Anaheim uniform, rather in the stands, when the Ducks open the 2011-12 regular season in Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 7.

The Ducks were one of four teams (the Sabres, Kings and Rangers are the others) chosen to take part in the “NHL Premiere” and “NHL Face-Off,” a now-annual tradition of opening the season overseas. It’s the first time the Ducks have started a season in Europe since back-to-back games against the Kings in London to open the 2007-08 season.

The European schedule begins with an exhibition game on Tuesday, Oct. 4 against Jokerit of the SM-Liga at Hartwall Arena. After the Friday game against the Sabres, the Ducks play the Rangers in Stockholm on Oct. 8.

The Ducks roster currently features three other Finns, Saku Koivu, Jarkko Ruutu and Toni Lydman. Only Koivu and Lydman are signed beyond this season, however.

After winning the second of the two London games in 2007, the Ducks lost eight of their next 11. Then-GM Brian Burke later said he would have chosen the team’s post-European schedule differently, and it will be interesting to see how Bob Murray does it this time around.

First-round series set: Ducks vs. Predators. Updates with schedule.

The Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday means the Ducks will host the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs.

The Ducks had the day off Sunday, but will get back to practice at 10 a.m. Monday with their next opponent in mind.

Update: Here is the first-round schedule:

Game        Date                               Venue                                Time (Pacific)
1                Wednesday, Apr. 13         Honda Center                     7:30 p.m.
2                Friday, Apr. 15                 Honda Center                     7:30 p.m.
3                Sunday, Apr. 17               Bridgestone Arena              TBD
4                Wednesday, Apr. 20         Bridgestone Arena              TBD
5                Friday, Apr. 22                 Honda Center                     7:00 p.m.
6                Sunday, Apr. 24               Bridgestone Arena              TBD
7                Tuesday, Apr. 26              Honda Center                     TBD

*If necessary

What can the Ducks expect from the Preds?
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Ducks 3, Kings 1.

The roller-coaster ride is over. Now the fun begins.

The Ducks couldn’t be happier about their position after 82 games — fourth place in the Western Conference, and guaranteed home-ice advantage for the first round — thanks to their win and losses by the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators earlier in the day.

The end result is that the Ducks will either host the Chicago Blackhawks or the Predators in the first round beginning no earlier than Wednesday.

“We found a way to get ourselves into a good position from thinking about where we were a couple months ago,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “You’ve got to credit our players; they’re the ones who put it out on the line night in and night out. It’s about a team that’s trying to work its way through all the hurdles that it’s been presented and now we have an opportunity to play at home.”

Here’s what the roller coaster looked like: The Ducks sat in third place in the West on Feb. 13. They fell as low as 11th and were there as late as March 8. They rejoined the top 8 on March 20 and did not leave. They began the day Saturday in seventh place and had risen to fourth by the end. Along the way there were subplots galore — skill, luck, 50 goals, 40-year-olds, vertigo — and it’s been fascinating to watch it all unfold.

The playoff scenarios are simple. If Chicago beats the Detroit Red Wings Sunday, the Ducks will play the Blackhawks. If Chicago loses, the Ducks play the Predators. That and more in tomorrow’s editions.

Here are a few more notes:
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Ducks 2, Kings 1.

The Ducks are going back to the playoffs.

Forty-year-old right wing Teemu Selanne virtually punched the ticket himself, scoring both goals for the Ducks, who can still finish as high as fourth but no lower than eighth.

Goaltender Dan Ellis made 23 saves in his first start since March 20, and the Ducks relieved the pressure to clinch in their final regular-season game tomorrow at Staples Center.

“It has been a grind for the last three months,” Selanne said. “I really believed that this team deserved to be in the playoffs. This was a big step forward. Now we can breathe a little bit. Tomorrow is another game where we can improve our standing a little bit and maybe get a better seed. We are going to take tomorrow’s game serious too.”

Check out all the game details in tomorrow’s editions. More notes and quotes to come …

Dallas wins, playoffs at stake tomorrow, and more.

The Ducks must wait another day to clinch a playoff berth after the Dallas Stars handed the Colorado Avalanche a 4-2 loss Thursday.

Aside from whether or not they will participate in the postseason, the biggest question facing the Ducks in their home-and-home series against the Kings is who will be in goal.

Ray Emery did not practice Thursday, one day after leaving midway through the Ducks’ 6-2 win over San Jose with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Emery finished the game on the bench, while Dan Ellis finished the final 29 minutes between the pipes.

“I felt a lot better this morning than I thought I would last night,” Emery said Thursday. “It’s a thing where I’m trying to be cautious, because I’m leery of things I’ve had in the past and I want to be able to contribute when I’m in there for a long period of time. It’s more of me being cautious.”

Said head coach Randy Carlyle, “we felt it was best for him to work out off-ice and have a treatment this morning, and we’ll make an assessment tomorrow morning at the morning skate.”

Emery was not the only Ducks player missing at practice.
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