Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau says he doesn’t set his team’s lines based on the opponent.
Yet, in Anaheim’s first meeting with the Kings Wednesday night since being eliminated in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals in May, the coach created an especially physical fourth line and added some extra speed to the first.
In addition to putting Long Beach’s Emerson Etem on the first line at Wednesday’s morning skate, the Ducks had penalty minutes leader Tim Jackman matched with gritty center Nate Thompson and imposing forward Patrick Maroon on the fourth.
“All big bodies, can all hit and play physical and can definitely wear down the opposition,” Thompson said. “We can all move pretty well. We should be able to control the play down low.”
While the trio has only two goals to show for 40 combined games, the Ducks understand -- especially after the Game 7 rout -- the importantance of not getting pushed around by their rivals.
“It’s going to be a physical game, I think we’ll match up well,” Maroon said. “Get pucks in, go to the net, hit guys.”
Boudreau said that because his team has reached three goals in only one of its last eight games, he didn’t mind experimenting with putting Etem alongside center Ryan Getzlaf and forward Devante Smith-Pelly (three goals, six points) on the first line.
“Some of those combinations haven’t been scoring, sometimes you shuffle the deck,” Boudreau said. “You have what you have. We’ll see how that fits. During the course of the game, things can change in a hurry. Switch the match-up, or switch the players.”
The remaining lines were center Ryan Kesler with forwards Jakob Silfverberg and Matt Beleskey, and center William Karlsson with Rickard Rakell and Andrew Cogliano. Goalie Frederik Andersen was first off the ice, indicating he’ll start.
Perry has missed three games after scoring 11 goals in the first 13, and Beauchemin was absent in Sunday’s shootout loss to Vancouver after falling ill Saturday.
Defenseman Cam Fowler (lower body injury) said he felt fine after Wednesday’s skate and Boudreau said he expected Fowler to play following his Friday injury that scratched him from Sunday’s game.
Party line: Asked how the playoff loss to the Kings has stuck with him and his players, Boudreau said, “We make way too much out of what’s happened in the past.”
Getzlaf said, “They were a good team. They deserved it. Not any hard feelings, they beat us, it [stinks, but] they took the hardest road possible in the playoffs. They earned it.”
Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said the home-and-home set with the Kings, which continues Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, is “a start,” both to this season’s chapter of the rivalry and to the Ducks’ answer to the current rut of three consecutive home shootout/overtime losses.
“You can feel good if you beat them one game, but if they come right back … you have to beat them and keep beating them,” Cogliano said.