Yes, Friday night’s Game 7 between the Ducks and Kings could be Teemu Selanne’s final game, but the retiring 43-year-old veteran forward is not thinking that way.
“It’s obviously something we know about ... but it’s not the focus,” Selanne said Friday after the Ducks’ morning skate in Honda Center before the decisive Western Conference semifinal contest at 6 p.m. PDT. “I try to look at this as a big game.”
Selanne said he intentionally declined to speak to reporters Thursday to spare his teammates from a deluge of “potential Selanne finale” stories. He also said he’s receiving many messages from family and friends but isn’t really reading or returning them.
“All the distractions, you put them aside,” Selanne said. “I didn’t want anyone to ask me about my last game. It’s not about that. All the focus should be on this game, and only this game.”
Selanne returned for this final season because he sensed this Ducks team had the talent to contend for a Stanley Cup, potential it showed by earning the Western Conference top seed for the first time in franchise history.
A win Friday would give Anaheim home-ice advantage for the remainder of the playoffs following the upset loss of Eastern Conference top-seed Boston to Montreal this week.
Selanne said he feels the magnitude of the game.
“It’s a little more exciting,” he said. “Your body feels different for sure. That’s how you create the energy and passion, and then at game time, it’s going to come out.”
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau altered Selanne’s line at Friday’s morning skate, moving in defensive-minded forward Daniel Winnik in place of Patrick Maroon. The Selanne line will be centered by Mathieu Perreault.
This is Selanne’s sixth Game 7, including last year’s first-round loss to the Detroit Red Wings that the Ducks have used as motivation in this campaign.
Selanne said he senses more confidence from this team.
“Those experiences we’ve tasted before I believe will help us right now, to take advantages of those chances we have,” he said.
Asked if he’ll address the team before Friday night’s puck drop, he said, “I don’t know. In these situations, I don’t think you need much. Less is more.
“It’s all about playing your best. That’s what everybody is going to think. You’ve got to enjoy this. It’s very special. It’s live or die. We know what the situation is. Just do it, very simple.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times