Ducks dissect the Predators

If there was one general theme to the Ducks’ discussion of Nashville Monday, it was toughness. The Predators, who finished second in the Central Division, aren’t the flashiest team in the NHL playoffs, but the Ducks aren’t allowing themselves to be fooled by that.

“Their whole team is very underrated and can’t underestimate them at all,” Teemu Selanne said. “Respect that and do our job the best we can. It’s going to be a tough series for sure.

“We have to be patient, they have a great system. They are what they are so we have to make sure we don’t give them any turnovers and play smart. I expect they’ll be low-scoring games and we have to play very tight.”

The Predators receiving the most praise Monday were goaltender Pekka Rinne and his goals-against average of 2.12 along with their No. 1 defensive pair of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Ducks goaltender Dan Ellis, who played for the Predators from 2007-10, was effusive in his praise of the trio and the franchise in general.

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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.