James Wisniewski finds perspective on Ducks' bench

Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski says it has been 'incredibly tough' being a healthy scratch in the playoffs

James Wisniewski two months ago was considered the prized addition for the Ducks’ playoff run, but 12 games into the postseason, the veteran defenseman hasn’t played one minute.

“Incredibly tough, never thought in a million years I’d be doing this, but it is what it is,” Wisniewski said Saturday, with the Ducks set to play six defensemen other than Wisniewski in Game 4 of the Western Conference final at United Center.

“Just accept it, be professional, come to work every day and work hard.”

Wisniewski, 31, ranked third in the NHL with power-play goals among defensemen with seven, but he had no goals with five assists in 13 games with Anaheim.

And when the playoffs began, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau opted to pair effective playoff enforcer Clayton Stoner with Sami Vatanen (eight playoff points) and another trade-deadline addition, Simon Despres, with Cam Fowler. Francois Beauchemin and Hampus Lindholm make up the Ducks' top defensive pairing.

Despres scored his first postseason goal Thursday, the game-winner in the Ducks’ 2-1 Game 3 victory at Honda Center.

Wisniewski has been left to embrace the good soldier’s role, and Boudreau has praised him, calling Wisniewski “incredibly professional” on Saturday.

“It’s hard to argue when we’re 10-2 in the playoffs,” Wisniewski said. “There was confusion at first, then anger, but you need to be professional, because I never know when I’m going to get tapped. Injury could happen. They could ask me to fill a duty.

“The only way to do that is to stay at 100%, be ready to go when called on.

“Dwelling on the situation, being negative, doesn’t help. There’s too much to live for rather than moaning about something. With age, you realize the important things in life.”

And obviously, the most important games are still to come.

“I think about that all the time,” Wisniewski said. “It’s very unusual to go the whole playoffs without having an injury – I’m not wishing that – but it could be food poisoning or something like that where they might need me. I need to stay physically ready and mentally sharp.”

The Ducks, who languished on the power play during the regular season, lauded the defenseman’s experience and powerful right-handed shot when the trade was made.

In the postseason, Wisniewski has worked closely with the defensemen and with the power-play units to help craft effective strategies.

Anaheim began the Chicago series as the most successful team in power-play conversion, and the Ducks’ opening goal Thursday was on the power play as they took a 2-1 series lead.

“I work with [assistant coach] Brad [Lauer] all the time, he trusts my instincts and opinions, which makes me feel part of something,” Wisniewski said. “We’ve worked hard on it this whole playoffs, and obviously the special-team battles win playoff games.”

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