Goaltender Frederik Andersen has won four of his last five games for the Ducks, giving up two goals or less in the victories with the NHL playoffs on the horizon. Is that enough for the 25-year-old — who's 34-11-5 this season — to clinch a Game 1 playoff start next week?
Coach Bruce Boudreau is noncommittal publicly about whether it
will be Andersen or John Gibson.
"I'm just thinking about the next two games and doing what I can do to prepare," Andersen said Tuesday after the Pacific Division champions finished practice. "That's my only focus right now."
Gibson, 21, has been strong too, with a 13-8 record and spelling Andersen after he suffered a head-neck injury in February. Both participated in the postseason last year.
"It's not set in stone who's going to play," Andersen said. "You've got to prove yourself on a nightly basis. If you're not performing, you're going to be out. I'm sure Bruce has confidence in both of us; it's probably going to take two goalies, no matter what, to go all the way. That speaks to how important it is to be ready, for both of us."
Andersen said getting passed over for playing time is something he takes "personally. … I want to use it to add more fuel to my fire, as extra motivation to get back in there and be better."
There were 16 forwards skating at practice, including Tim Jackman, who is eager to play Wednesday after being sidelined since March 1 because of a leg injury.
"I hope the doctors say I'm OK and that the coaches want me to play," Jackman said.
He appears poised to join the fourth line with center Nate Thompson and Patrick Maroon.
Yet, Jackman can plainly see the wealth of forwards in the room. Emerson Etem, Chris Wagner and Stefan Noesen skated in "fifth-line" blue shirts Tuesday and Tomas Fleischmann was the extra skater on the third line. Jackman knows postseason matchups could determine his need.
"Everybody wants to be part of this team," Jackman said. "I try to earn my spot. We're all fighting for the same goal. We're all here for the same reason."
Boudreau and several Ducks maintained that while they're aware of the multi-team chase to ensure the final Western Conference playoff spots, there's not a rooting interest.
Believe it or not.
"Don't care," Andersen said. "It's not who we play. It's how we play. The only difference is what color the other team's jersey will be and what city we have to travel to. It's about this room right now."
Boudreau said he and his wife have been watching countless games on two televisions during the Ducks' four-day break. He wouldn't take the bait when asked how he viewed the Kings' tough shootout loss Monday.
"The games are very interesting, you can see the intensity is there," Boudreau said. "I try to watch them as a coach — the result is as a fan."
DUCKS VS. DALLAS
When: 7:30 p.m PDT Wednesday.
On the air: TV: NBC Sports Network. Radio: 980.
Etc.: In the Ducks' regular-season home finale, the defensively flawed Stars (259 goals given up rank 27th in the NHL) will test the Ducks' attention to defense. The Stars, who fell to the Ducks in six games in the first round of last season's playoffs, rank second in goals with 253.