Who knew the Ducks would ever become evildoers?
It wasn’t long ago that they weren’t taken very seriously on the ice, what with a cartoonish logo and a uniform that included the colors of eggplant and jade. But now these men in black are big and bad, with a physical style that puts them right on the edge of what’s legal in hockey.
And now they are accused of being downright mean with opposing goaltenders. That’s what Minnesota thought. And Vancouver. And Detroit.
Now add Ottawa Senators Coach Bryan Murray to the list as both teams get set for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals tonight at the Honda Center, with the Ducks holding a 1-0 series lead.
“I think there were a couple of times last night where Ray Emery had the puck covered and there were two or three extra hacks at him,” Murray said Tuesday, adding that he tried to talk to one of the game’s officials about it but was rebuffed.
“He told me to go stand behind the bench. So, it’s very hard for me to do anything other than be the guy behind the bench standing there and hope that somebody recognizes that there are levels we’ve been told you play at and it’s called accordingly. But I can’t answer for the officials.”
Among controversies, this is a long way from ranking up with Brett Hull’s foot being in the crease. Buffalo Sabres’ fans are still sore about that eight years later, though the Dallas Stars have long since hoisted their Cup banner and are fine with how that non-call turned out.
But then this little verbal tussle might have some legs if the referees suddenly become a little quicker with their whistles when it gets hairy around the crease in Game 2.
Just don’t expect the Ducks to adjust their approach.
“You play between the whistles,” winger Corey Perry said. “If the puck’s free, you can pop at it, I guess. If the whistle doesn’t blow, you just keep playing.”
Murray, in reality, is simply seeking a little protection for his second-year goalie and even an interference call or two. At least, that is what he is hoping after some informal chats with league officials who are in town for the series.
“I don’t have to say one word to anybody, really,” Murray said. “I have. But I don’t have to, because every time I talk to one of the league officials, they’ve seen it and it’s a matter of application.”
The Ducks being accused of being rough with goaltenders isn’t new in this postseason.
Minnesota Coach Jacques Lemaire and Vancouver Coach Alain Vigneault voiced similar concerns.
Detroit Coach Mike Babcock, who’s one to appreciate tough play, joined the fray during the Western Conference finals when he suggested that the Ducks were bumping Dominik Hasek around too much.
Predictably, the Ducks defended what they do.
“We’re going hard to the net and we’re going to go try and score goals,” said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who got the tying goal in Monday’s 3-2 victory. “We’re definitely not trying to do anything to provoke him or injure him, by any means.
“I think we’re going into those dirty areas, and when there’s loose pucks, we’re going to try to put them in the net.”
At the center of the squall is Emery, who largely downplayed the Ducks’ aggressive style after his somewhat shaky Game 1 performance -- he made 27 saves but at times had trouble covering the puck.
“Maybe [New] Jersey didn’t whack that much” compared to the Ducks, he said. “But the other teams were whacking. And you kind of expect it. But, at the same time, they’ve got to make calls sometimes because it can get out of hand.”
Keeping the Ducks off Emery isn’t Murray’s only concern, but it’s magnified until he can get his vaunted top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley going again. The three were limited to two assists in Game 1. But Murray has no intention of breaking them up, saying Tuesday he will “stick with them, let them play.”
Murray also says he thinks the Ducks got away with obstructing his forwards, including his top line, entering the offensive zone without being called for hooking, holding or interference.
As for the claim that the Ducks cross the line of fair play on occasion, well, to them it’s just white noise.
“We don’t pay attention to it,” Perry said. “We have our own game plan. We know what we have to do and we have to go out and execute.”
Times staff writer Lonnie White contributed to this report.