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."
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 (upper-body injury) other than Wagner skated on his own Friday.