Ducks know value of avoiding Game 7
Anaheim blew 3-2 series leads in each of the past two seasons
When most teams suggest the fourth win of a playoff series is the toughest to get, it’s a cliche.
When the Anaheim Ducks say it, it’s a therapy session.
It’s explaining why everything went so horribly wrong.
Twice in the past two seasons they’ve had a playoff opponent down and out, one loss away from elimination, and somehow found themselves on the outside looking in when the series was over.
The Ducks had a 3-2 lead on the L.A. Kings in 2014 and lost the series in seven.
They had a 3-2 lead on the Chicago Blackhawks last year and lost the series in seven.
So there is no understating the importance of Anaheim, up 3-2 in their series with the Predators, closing it out in Game 6 Monday night in Nashville, Tenn.
“I look at it as last year — it’s history for me,” said Ducks defenceman Hampus Lindholm, when asked the obvious 3-2 question before the team jetted off to Nashville on Sunday.
“This is a new year, a new group; it doesn’t really bother me what happened in other years,” he said.
“All the stuff that happened before, I don’t think anyone has that on their mind right now. It’s in the past.
“We’ve been through some adversity this year, and I think we are much stronger and really know what to do in these types of situations. It’s just one game we have to focus on. I don’t think about much more than this game.”
If they want to make Monday’s game a little spookier, they might want to think about this: Bruce Boudreau teams are 1-6 in Game 7s.
“There’s a fine line between stressing out that you have to close it out in Game 6 and thinking there’s still a Game 7,” Boudreau said. “If we don’t happen to succeed, you don’t want to think it’s over after Game 6.”
True, but with a history like theirs, nobody wants to risk repeating it.
“Experience is the best teacher,” Boudreau said. “What didn’t work one time, you try something different until you find a formula that has.”
They are still searching. But having said that, Boudreau has no plans to bring up those losses to the Kings and Hawks when he addresses the team Monday.
“I’m not bringing it up. I bet there are 10 different guys on our team from 2014.”
And the Ducks have shown they are better able to handle adversity this year, coming back after a terrible start to their season and rebounding from a 2-0 deficit in this first-round series. They believe that will help get the job done in this 3-2 situation.
“There has to be a sense of urgency just like we had when we were down 0-2,” Nate Thompson said. “You don’t want to dwell on what happened last year, but you definitely have to learn from it.”
Thompson said none of the Ducks are afraid of having to play another Game 7 at home — they’d just rather not.
“Game 7s are fun. It’s Game 7! But when you have a chance to close out a series in six games, why not?
“You have to take advantage of the opportunity.
“We’ve gone there and won two in this series. Knowing that we can win there in that environment — it definitely gives you a sense of confidence.
“But we have to play a much better game than we played last game. If it wasn’t for Freddie (goalie Frederik Andersen) and a couple of instances during the game it could have been a lot different.”
The Ducks won 5-2 in Game 5, but they scored on a couple of flukes, an empty netter and were bailed out by some amazing saves by Andersen.
They might not be as lucky in Game 6.
“It wasn’t our best game, but we found a way to win, which at this time of year is very crucial,” Lindholm said.
“From that point, it was good to get away with a W, but we have to be much better tomorrow, and all the guys know that.”