Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle is seeking a playoff birthday present

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle is seeking a playoff birthday present
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle talks to his players during Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Calgary Flames on Thursday. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle celebrated his 61st birthday on Wednesday, and he got some birthday greetings from the media as he stepped to the podium for a news conference after the team’s morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “Where’s my gifts?” he said, adding a smile.

And you know what's coming.


The best gift he could get would be for his team to close out its first-round playoff series against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. The Ducks hold a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Defenseman Sami Vatanen (upper-body injury) will not be available for the game, Carlyle said. Defenseman Cam Fowler, who suffered a knee injury on April 4, skated again but isn’t ready to return.

John Gibson was the first goaltender to leave the ice after the morning skate, the usual indication of which goalie will start. Gibson was yanked from Game 3 after he yielded four goals on 16 shots and left with the Ducks trailing, 4-1. Jonathan Bernier got the win in relief as the Ducks rallied to win, 5-4, in overtime.

Carlyle's policy is that he doesn't announce his starting goalie or confirm any rumors about who will start. Many coaches take the same approach, saying they don't want to give the opposing team any kind of competitive advantage.

But some coaches make their choice known. Calgary Coach Glen Gulutzan said earlier Wednesday that he plans to bring back Brian Elliott to start Game 4, even though Elliott gave up some soft goals that aided the Ducks’ comeback.

That comeback — the biggest playoff rally in the Ducks’ history — should give them confidence Wednesday night. However, forward Rickard Rakell said that while it’s comforting to know they can come back if the situation demands it, the Ducks don’t want to put themselves in the position of having to stage another big comeback against the Flames.

"We don't want to have that in our mind-set that it's going to be OK if we get down. It would be nice to get on the board first," said Rakell, who has two goals and four points in the series.

"Look at the last game: We took a lot of penalties at the start of that game and after that we had to chase it. We've got to stay disciplined and not take anything for granted. It's not going to be easy just because we're up, 3-0. It could be easy for us to sit back and relax, but it's not that at all. We've got to go get it."

Carlyle said he hoped the team's mood was "businesslike" and that players were maintaining a sense of purpose.

"We're trying not to get too high, not to get too low. Stay on an even keel. Try to play to a higher level than we did in the last game. That's been our goal since the start of the playoffs," he said.

"We've tried to set a template of just to stay calm and stay in it. There's lots of variables that push your pace or test you .... You've got to move on. Play the game. Play it between the whistles. Do your job. Do what we do. Do it to a higher level than we did the last game. Give ourselves a chance."

A fifth game, if necessary, will be played on Friday at Honda Center, where the Flames have lost 29 straight games since 2006, including playoffs.

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