Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Different stories for Ducks, Kings D-men
By Pierre LeBrun
LOS ANGELES -- Rookie defenseman Sami Vatanen of the Anaheim Ducks has made his presence felt since being called up earlier in the series. The 22-year-old hasn’t shown any nerves in his first-ever playoff games.
"I just try to play my game and not think too much," Vatanen said Wednesday after the team's morning skate at Staples Center. "You just enjoy it every time when you get a chance to go on the ice. You don’t think about pressure."
Despite playing well for Finland at the Olympics, Vatanen was sent down to Norfolk of the AHL after the break, brought back up, and then was the odd man out again at the end of the regular season and was sent back down.
"It sucks every time you get sent down to Norfolk," Vatanen said. "But you never know what’s going to happen in the next day. You just try to get better."
With his team down 2-0 in the series, Boudreau had Vatanen recalled from Norfolk and inserted the rookie into the series ever since Game 3, and his presence has been felt in transition. His puck-moving skills and skating ability has helped the third pairing with Bryan Allen spend list time bottled up in their own zone.
"We didn't score many goals in the first two games and then they called me up, I just try to help my team on offense," said Vatanen.
Two years ago it was Slava Voynov turning heads as a rookie, playing every game for the Los Angeles Kings en route to a Stanley Cup championship. Last season, Voynov grabbed a lot of attention by putting up 13 points (6G-7A) in 18 playoff games.
But he's been a disappointment in these playoffs with just two points (1-1) in 12 games, not playing with the same confidence nor being as assertive as he was a year ago.
"I feel like I can be better, for sure, offensively and defense, so I don't know what's happened, but I'm trying to get better every day," Voynov said Wednesday morning.
As for the forwards, the Ducks are expected to stick with their winning formula from Game 5:
Devante Smith-Pelly-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano-Saku Koivu-Jakob Silfverberg
Daniel Winnik-Nick Bonino-Kyle Palmieri
Patrick Maroon-Mathieu Perreault-Teemu Selanne
Elsewhere, Boudreau said injured winger Matt Beleskey and goalie Frederik Andersen will not be available for the rest of the series.
The Kings didn't show their lines at the morning skate. Head coach Darryl Sutter is keeping everyone guessing, but here’s how L.A.'s forwards lined up last game:
Marian Gaborik-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli
Trevor Lewis-Jarret Stoll-Justin Williams
Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jordan Nolan
And this is just a guess, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kyle Clifford back into the lineup for the Kings for Game 6.