Ducks can close regular season with the No. 1 conference seed

Ducks can close regular season with the No. 1 conference seed
Ryan Getzlaf will play Saturday against Arizona. Getzlaf has sat out the past two games to heal from bumps and bruises. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Late in the Ducks' practice Friday, center Ryan Getzlaf accepted a pass, saw an opening to the net and rifled a shot that stretched the nylon material behind the goaltender.

Getzlaf raised his stick upward to rejoice, making the shape of the number one.


Saturday night in Arizona, Getzlaf and the Pacific Division-champion Ducks (50-24-7) can earn a second consecutive No. 1 seeding in the Western Conference playoffs.

They can do so if the Central Division-champion St. Louis Blues fail to beat the Minnesota Wild in a noon (Pacific time) game Saturday.

If the Blues win before a shootout, the Ducks get the top seed by beating Arizona in regulation or overtime. If the teams finished tied in points, the tie-breaker would be regulation and overtime victories. The Ducks have 42 to the Blues' 41, but if the teams also finished tied in that category, the top seed would be decided by the fourth tiebreaker — goal differential — which favors St. Louis.

The Ducks sorely missed Getzlaf, who sat the last two games for what Coach Bruce Boudreau described as "bumps and bruises" from the grind of a regular season.

Boudreau said Thursday that Getzlaf was not fully healthy going into either of the last two postseasons, when the Ducks bowed out in the first and second rounds.

Getzlaf — a Hart Trophy (most valuable player) candidate with 24 goals and a team-best 68 points — is expected to play Saturday against the last-place Coyotes (24-49-8).

"We had the opportunity [to rest], [I] played a lot of games in the last couple years … it made sense to miss a couple games and have a full week off," Getzlaf said. "Frustrating to watch, but a couple good days of practice … we'll make sure we're doing the right things.

"We can still lock it up. [The No. 1 seeding] is still in our [control], which is nice."

With wild-card Winnipeg poised to play the No. 1 seed and Minnesota or Chicago left to decide the other wild-card entrant in separate games Saturday, Getzlaf said it doesn't matter who awaits in the postseason.

"No matter who we play, it's a big, hard test … physical games," he said. "We've just got to be ready to play."

Carry the load

With Getzlaf and second-line center Ryan Kesler, the Ducks are armed with players who can take over playoff games. Right wing Corey Perry can, too, as his five goals since March 20 and team-best 33 goals this season have proved.

"I feel fine, everybody's trying to gear up, get at that top speed for the playoffs," Perry said Friday, after a minus-three showing that included two missed shots and a giveaway in Wednesday's 4-0 home loss to Dallas.

"There's going to be different players [stepping up] different nights. You never know who it's going to be. You try to put your team on your shoulders each night, but everybody has the drive and character to do that."

No. 1 choice?

Boudreau declined again Friday to reveal to reporters whether he plans to start Frederik Andersen or John Gibson in goal in Game 1 of the playoffs.



When: 6 PDT.

On the air: TV: Fox Sports West; Radio: 710.

Etc.: The Coyotes, with the league's second-worst record, close out a season in which their major accomplishment could be landing phenom Connor McDavid in the NHL draft.