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:
Dan Ellis made 43 saves tonight. I had him making 42 in the print story before I caught the error and my apologies go out to Mr. Ellis and anyone who reads the early version. He said he found out that he would get the start either late Friday or Saturday morning, which means a few things: 1. Ray Emery, who has an undisclosed lower-body injury, wasn’t all that close to getting the start; 2. Jonas Hiller was never an option to start; 3. Ellis has the full confidence of the coaching staff.
Brad Winchester and Matt Beleskey took turns skating with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Bobby Ryan did not. Beleskey was there in the third period Friday, too. The time on ice allotment for the Ducks forwards tells a more revealing story: Getzlaf (29:31), Perry (29:27), Koivu (18:46), Selanne (16:00), McMillan (15:59), Ryan (14:59). Ryan finished the season with 34 goals and 37 assists in 82 games, but had only two goals in his last 14 games.
Here’s the video of Teemu Selanne’s fight with Brad Richardson. Take a good look at the 2:26 mark, he actually lands a clean right:
Todd Marchant (flu) missed his second straight game. Kyle Chipchura had a 1:54 cameo in his stead.
Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist, giving him 15 and 30 for the season. His streak of seven straight 50-point campaigns ends.
The Ducks recalled G J.P. Levasseur and C Nick Bonino from Syracuse prior to the game. Bonino, who had 12 goals and 45 points in 50 games for the Crunch this season, skated in the warm-up but did not play.