As much as the Ducks have relied on top scorers Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, they have benefited from the physical play of Matt Beleskey and Patrick Maroon — tough guys who helped the Ducks to a 4-0-1 record against the Kings during the regular season.
Beleskey, a former moving company employee who is a “Sons of Anarchy” fan, missed four of the six games the Ducks played in a first-round series against the Dallas Stars because of a lower-body injury. His deliberately reckless style of play has worked especially well against the Kings this season, as he contributed two goals and an assist.
He scored the opening goal in the Ducks' 3-0 victory over the Kings at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25, and considers that a highlight. “The outdoor game was the biggest spectacle, everyone saw that, and to play how we did was a good feeling,” Beleskey said.
The rugged 200-pounder is expected to skate alongside Hart Trophy finalist Getzlaf and 2011 Hart winner Perry on the Ducks' first line in Game 1 of the Western Conference second-round series against the Kings that starts Saturday at Honda Center. The Hart Trophy goes to the league most valuable player.
“He's really complemented us,” Perry said. “Hits, gets us pucks, wins battles.”
Maroon, 26, operates both as a 230-pound wrecking ball and as a scorer. After he produced seven 20-plus-goals seasons in the minors, he so firmly secured a role with the Ducks that the team traded away Dustin Penner in March.
Maroon has played in every Ducks game since Jan. 18, contributing 11 goals and 18 assists with 101 penalty minutes during the regular season. He had a goal and three assists with 36 penalty minutes in the Ducks' series win over the Stars.
“Patty was like the officer against Dallas, keeping guys cool,” said Ducks center Mathieu Perreault. “He wears guys down.”
Maroon and Beleskey are expected to play an important role in what is sure to be a physical series against the Kings.
“Those two guys are built for this kind of game,” Perry said. “We know how L.A. plays — big team, skilled, like to hit. They're going to come out and do that and we have to be able to respond. Those two guys are going to have to set the tone for us. When they're doing that, and our team's doing that, we're successful.”
After missing the Ducks' nine-round shootout loss to the Kings on Dec. 3, Maroon scored game-winning goals in 2-1 victories against the Kings on Jan. 23 and March 15.
“They [the Kings] play hard between the whistles, and that's what I'm all about,” Maroon said. “Finish your checks, get pucks in, be physical, play smart, grind them down low, create traffic and space.”
Maroon likened his own underdog emergence to what he hopes is in store for the Ducks as they attempt to eliminate a rival that enjoys most of the hockey attention locally.
“We're a good, close team and want this really bad,” Maroon said. “We have that chip, we believe in each other, we believe in what it takes. And that goes a long way.”
Beleskey expects hockey's Freeway Series to generate plenty of passion from both sides. “It's definitely going to be a chippy series,” he said. “Heated but fun.”
Getzlaf (31 goals, 56 assists) is a Hart Trophy finalist for the first time. The other finalists are Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the award in 2007, and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. The award will be presented June 24. “It's an honor to be a part of a group like that, and the way our team succeeded, it was a goal,” Getzlaf said. … It is unclear who Coach Bruce Boudreau will choose as his Game 1 goalie. Jonas Hiller, the primary starter during the regular season, said he felt “better about the situation than I did last week,” when he was on the bench behind rookie Frederik Andersen. On Sunday, Andersen was pulled for the second time in three games after allowing four goals in 12 shots. Hiller entered to make saves on all 12 Stars shots as the Ducks rallied to win in overtime. … The Ducks said Game 1 of the upcoming series was a sellout. TicketCity.com, a ticket broker, said the average ticket price on the secondary market was $116 for games at Honda Center and $198 at Staples Center.
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