Ducks use ex­tra time off to get into play­off mind-set

Los Angeles Times - - NHL - By Lance Pug­mire lance.pug­mire@la­

A pal­pa­ble push for the play­offs was at work Mon­day for the Ducks, who used the third of four con­sec­u­tive days off to grind through a two-hour prac­tice.

“At­ten­tion to de­tail in all ar­eas of our game,” cen­ter Ryan Kesler said af­ter a prac­tice that lasted so long a Zam­boni resur­fac­ing was re­quired mid­way through. “Stay­ing in game mode … you can go about th­ese four days two ways: You can re­lax and take time off or con­tinue to get bet­ter. “We got bet­ter to­day.” The Ducks (50-23-7) lead the West­ern Con­fer­ence by two points over the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion-lead­ing St. Louis Blues, who have three home games re­main­ing com­pared with Ana­heim’s two against play­off out­siders Dal­las and Ari­zona.

The Kings, Min­nesota, Van­cou­ver, Cal­gary and Win­nipeg are in con­tention to be the Ducks’ first-round op­po­nents. Kesler says it doesn’t mat­ter who shows up at Honda Cen­ter next week.

“It’s about us,” he said. “Any team we play is go­ing to be a great hockey club. We just need to play our game. That’s why it’s good to have th­ese days here to work on our game, get ready and fo­cus on play­ing the right way. We do that, we’ll be good.”

Coach Bruce Boudreau said his open­ing-night play­off ros­ter is “in my mind,” in­clud­ing the goal­tender, but de­clined to re­veal names.

At Tues­day’s prac­tice, for­ward Matt Be­leskey re­turned from an undis­closed lower-body in­jury af­ter a three-game ab­sence and was on the first line with Ryan Get­zlaf and Corey Perry. For­ward Tim Jackman, side­lined since March 1 be­cause of a leg in­jury, skated on the fourth line.

“Ev­ery­thing feels great,” said Be­leskey, who has 22 goals. “We’ve al­ways played pretty good to­gether. See how it goes, how long it stays.”

Jackman will be eval­u­ated by a doc­tor Tues­day, he said, and hopes to be cleared to play ver­sus Dal­las on Wed­nes­day.

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