Time to Put Bad Starts in the Past

Times Staff Writer

Clinching a playoff spot is a mere formality for the Mighty Ducks. One more victory -- or a Phoenix loss -- and they will have accomplished the improbable, going from zero to 60 in one off-season.

The third playoff appearance in franchise history could be wrapped up tonight, when the Ducks play host to Columbus.

“We know we are in the playoffs,” said right wing Petr Sykora, whose team-high 32 goals is one of the reasons the Ducks are where they are with five games left. “But we have to get ready for them. We don’t want into get any bad habits before the playoffs start.”

Too late.


The Ducks have had a string of bad starts and have trailed in the second period six consecutive games. That they have a 3-1-1-1 record in those games shows that it is not a talent issue.

“We got to get our legs going so that we can come out and play [tonight],” Coach Mike Babcock said.


Et tu Ronnie? It’s one thing when Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios calls Paul Kariya the worst diver in the NHL. Chelios’ dislike for Kariya -- or his attempt at mind games -- is well known. When San Jose Coach Ron Wilson, who coached Kariya in Anaheim, chimes in, it comes as a surprise, even in the heat of the moment.

Wilson was angered after the Sharks’ Scott Hannan was called for hooking near the end of regulation Thursday. That led to Niclas Havelid’s game-winning power-play goal in overtime.

“Maybe I’ll call a practice ... and practice our diving,” Wilson said after the game. “I’m dead serious. [Referee] Chris Rooney calls a penalty on us on an obvious dive by Paul Kariya. If anything, it should cost Paul Kariya $1,000 to win the hockey game. [NHL officials] put out a memo on dives and divers and he’s right at the top of the list for taking dives.... You see a guy just get tapped and his head flies back and he lands on his keister like that, it’s a dive.”


vs. Columbus, 7:30


Site -- Arrowhead Pond.

Radio -- KPLS (830).

Records -- Ducks 37-26-9-5; Blue Jackets 26-38-7-3.

Record vs. Blue Jackets -- 3-0.


Update -- The Ducks have four power-play goals in the last three games, after a 0-for-32 streak. They also have given up five power-play goals in the last four games.