Ducks FYI: Goaltender schedule not set in stone

Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau says his goalie plan is subject to change

Originally, Ducks goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson were to alternate starts in March, then adjust in April as it became clear who was playing better.

But after Andersen lost consecutive starts March 6 and March 9, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau kept the goalie idle for a third straight game Sunday.

"We have a plan, but what we always say is that it's subject to change," Boudreau said Tuesday. "A little bit is on how they play, who the opposition is … all those things come into play."

Gibson has beaten standouts in the opposing nets, Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk and Nashville's Pekka Rinne, in the last two games.

So what's the thinking now with the Kings and Jonathan Quick arriving at Honda Center on Wednesday for the fifth and final regular-season meeting between the rivals?

Andersen has played in three games against the Kings. Gibson won the most recent meeting at home, 19 days ago.

"Just have to keep working hard, try to get back to what I did before I got hurt and get back in the good shape I had most of the year," said Andersen (30-10-5), who gave up four goals on 20 shots to Pittsburgh on March 6 and two goals on 16 shots at Vancouver three days later.

Gibson (11-6) played the 10 games that Andersen missed from Feb. 10 to March 1 while recovering from a head/neck injury he suffered when a goal was tipped atop him Feb. 8 in Tampa Bay.

But Andersen carried the Ducks through the first half of the season with 20 consecutive appearances

Andersen said his focus is on improving rather than dwelling on the meaning of a goalie schedule change.

"There's still a lot of games left, that's how I look at it," Andersen said. "I know I'm going to change some minds. We both have to battle. It's going to be a long season. We are two talented goalies that can carry this team deep."

King-sized game

If the season ended before Tuesday's games, the Ducks' first-round playoff opponent would be the Kings.

"We don't want to beat them to knock them out," said Boudreau, whose Western Conference-leading team is 3-0-1 against the Kings this season. "We want to beat them to get our position better."

The Kings are trying to stave off Winnipeg and San Jose for the final playoff spot. The Minnesota Wild is currently in the top wild-card position.

Doesn't Boudreau want the Kings eliminated if possible, considering their two Stanley Cups and one Western Conference finals appearance in the last three seasons?

"I'm not going to say that," Boudreau said.

"The best eight will make it," he added. "In my history, it's always, 'Be careful who you wish for.' You don't realize the tiger you have by the tail. I try not to even say [who I wish to play] because if it does come true, I'm a little nervous."

Vatanen ready

Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen, sidelined since Feb. 15 because of an unspecified lower-body injury, said he's ready to play Wednesday — an offensive boost, it would seem, with his 12 goals and 34 points.

But Boudreau didn't sound too thrilled to tinker with his defensive pairs against the Kings, making Vatanen's return more likely to come at home Friday against Colorado.

Vatanen practiced Tuesday with defenseman Korbinian Holzer, who hasn't played since his trade-deadline acquisition.

"The defense is playing pretty good the last couple of games," Boudreau said. "It's not an easy decision."

TONIGHT

VS. KINGS

When: 7:30.

On the air: TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: 830, 790.

Etc.: The Ducks scored four third-period goals to beat the Kings in Anaheim on Feb. 27. Kings forward Tyler Toffoli has 20 goals and is plus-20 this season.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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