Right wing Teemu Selanne will not be in the Ducks’ lineup when they face the Kings on Saturday at Staples Center but will play in his final NHL regular-season game Sunday, when the Ducks host the surging Colorado Avalanche.
The 43-year-old Finn, who plans to retire after the playoffs, hasn’t played both ends of back-to-back games this season, a strategy designed to save his energy. Selanne, voted the most valuable player in the Sochi Olympic hockey tournament after he led his homeland to the bronze medal, has nine goals (four on the power play) and 27 points in 63 games this season. He has averaged 14 minutes 3 seconds of ice time each game.
“Stuck with this game plan what we have had the whole year,” said a smiling Selanne, who has continually pushed for more ice time and expanded duties on the first power-play unit, often without success.
The Ducks have clinched the Pacific Division title and can still finish as the No. 1 playoff seed in the West and No. 1 in the NHL. They were the No. 2 seed in the West last season but were eliminated by Detroit in a seven-game, first-round series.
“We were talking earlier we want to finish strong, and of course there’s still something on the line in those last two games,” Selanne said after the team practiced Friday. “The bottom line is that next week is the new season and that’s all what matters. Last year we didn’t take the next step and we want to remind each other that we couldn’t do it last year and now it’s time to do it.
“I think this group has improved from last year and that’s why the expectations are very high.”
Fellow Finn Saku Koivu, who hasn’t decided whether this will be his final season, also won’t play Saturday but is expected to be in the lineup Sunday.
Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry didn’t practice Friday and instead rested, but both are expected to play Saturday. Forward Daniel Winnik wore a cage to protect his broken nose but will play Saturday, Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
“Broken noses, to a hockey player, is like a bent fingernail,” Boudreau said. “Everybody’s had them. You play with them.”
The Ducks’ goaltending situation, thrown into flux by Jonas Hiller’s recent shakiness, Frederik Andersen's upper-body injury and the solid play of 20-year-old rookie John Gibson, remains unclear. Hiller said he won’t play Saturday but didn’t know his status for Sunday, and Boudreau doesn’t announce his starting goalie in advance.