Fleis­chmann steps in ca­pa­bly

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By He­lene El­liott he­lene.el­liott@la­times.com twit­ter: @he­le­nenothe­len

To­mas Fleis­chmann knew there were no guar­an­tees he would play a big role af­ter the Ducks ac­quired him from the Florida Pan­thers on Feb. 28 for Dany Heat­ley and a third-round pick in this year’s en­try draft.

The Czech-born winger had one goal and one as­sist in six games be­fore he was a healthy scratch; he was scratched three more times be­fore the sea­son ended and wasn’t in the lineup for the Ducks’ first two play­off games against the Win­nipeg Jets.

“It’s a re­ally good team. They know what they want to do here,” he said of his thoughts on be­ing traded to Ana­heim. “Ba­si­cally, I came like a new guy, and they tried me out. I came here ba­si­cally for play­offs and for in­juries, maybe if some­body gets hurt, like it did hap­pen.”

With cen­ter Nate Thomp­son in­jured and fourth-line cen­ter Chris Wag­ner hurt in Game 2, the Ducks called on Fleis­chmann in Games 3 and 4. His per­for­mances proved how im­por­tant it is to have qual­ity depth dur­ing the post­sea­son.

Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau had coached Fleis­chmann in Wash­ing­ton and de­ployed him at cen­ter, a po­si­tion Fleis­chmann had played as a young­ster. He stepped in ca­pa­bly, win­ning 14 of 27 face­offs in the two games and con­tribut­ing an as­sist in Game 4 as the Ducks swept the Jets.

“Fleisch has been un­real for us,” de­fense­man Ham­pus Lind­holm said Fri­day af­ter the Ducks prac­ticed at Honda Cen­ter. “He re­ally de­served to get a goal there in the first game he came in. In the sec­ond game, he played re­ally good. He de­served that spot. It’s fun to see guys com­ing in like that.”

Fleis­chmann, who can be­come an un­re­stricted free agent this sum­mer, said he en­joyed play­ing cen­ter again.

“It’s a lit­tle bit harder. You’ve got to think more in the game than as a winger, but you are still in mo­tion. You don’t stop much,” he said. “That’s what I like. You still move your feet, and you usu­ally get the puck more on your stick.”

He also liked be­ing back in the play­offs for the first time since the 2011-12 sea­son.

“Florida didn’t make the play­offs, so for me, this is a way bet­ter sit­u­a­tion,” he said. “The best at­mos­phere I had was in Win­nipeg. It was pretty im­pres­sive. I hadn’t had an op­por­tu­nity to have it like that. I played in Philly with the Cap­i­tals, and we played in a lot of big-time cities, but this Win­nipeg rink was pretty loud. It was im­pres­sive and very much ex­cit­ing for me.”

It worked out pretty well

for the Ducks too. Up next …

The Cal­gary Flames had a chance Thurs­day to clinch a sec­ond-round matchup with the Ducks but were beaten by the Van­cou­ver Canucks. The Flames will get an­other chance to ad­vance Satur­day, a game that will air on NBCSN at 6 p.m. PDT. A sev­enth game, if nec­es­sary, will be played Mon­day at Van­cou­ver.

Boudreau said he doesn’t have a pref­er­ence for the Ducks’ next op­po­nent. And if he did, he said, he wouldn’t dis­close it. That se­ries won’t begin un­til all first-round se­ries are com­pleted.

“I don’t think it re­ally mat­ters who we play,” Lind­holm said. “You have to beat them all to be the best, and beat the best to be the best your­selves. Maybe some­one has fam­ily in one of the cities. Oth­er­wise, I don’t think any­one re­ally cares.” Etc.

Thomp­son, who prac­ticed with the team Fri­day and said his sta­tus re­mains day to day, said he was too ner­vous to sit while watch­ing the Ducks play Win­nipeg. “I was stand­ing and pac­ing. I was a ner­vous wreck. It was fun to watch, but I’d like to be play­ing,” he said. Boudreau said Thomp­son looked “OK,” adding, “I guess we’ll see more when it be­comes more dif­fi­cult prac­tices.”

Goal­tender John Gibson (up­per-body in­jury) didn’t prac­tice with the team. Boudreau said he had no in­for­ma­tion on Wag­ner (up­per­body in­jury) other than he skated on his own Fri­day.

Stephen Dunn Getty Images

TO­MAS FLEIS­CHMANN (14) wasn’t in the Ducks’ play­off lineup, but with Nate Thomp­son in­jured and Chris Wag­ner hurt in Game 2, he was called in at cen­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.