Ducks’ acquisition of Adam Henrique could be the difference in the playoffs
The Ducks reached the 100-point plateau for the fifth consecutive season with a five-game winning streak to cap the campaign.
They’re the only team to achieve the feat during that span, and another playoff run means the Ducks return a squad brimming with postseason experience.
Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin all hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2007. Other notable contributors, like All-Star Rickard Rakell, Andrew Cogliano and Cam Fowler, tasted playoff hockey as members of the Ducks each of the last five seasons.
But it’s newcomer to the Ducks this season who figures to be pivotal to their playoff fortunes. And Adam Henrique already know what it’s like to vie for the Cup and lose, a feeling he hopes to avoid as the Ducks prepare to kick off the postseason against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday at Honda Center.
“That was my first year, so I was just trying to keep my head down and keep pushing forward,” said Henrique, who reached the Stanley Cup Final with the New Jersey Devils in 2012, only to lose in six games to the Kings. “It’s been a while, it’s great to have another chance at the postseason.”
Henrique hasn’t experienced playoff hockey since 2012, but he has grown as a player during those six seasons. He’s been able to score goals (20 this season), and the one he scored against his former club is regarded as one of the best of the year. But he knows it takes much more than that to compete in the playoffs.
Henrique, acquired by the Ducks in November, realizes consistency is key, to contribute all over the ice. And that’s exactly what he has accomplished. Henrique is strong on the backcheck, in the faceoff circle, and in the locker room too.
Coach Randy Carlyle credits Henrique’s leadership with the development of his linemates, Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase. Kase, in particular, blossomed during his first full season in the NHL. The 22-year-old from the Czech Republic scored 20 goals this season, and the trio has been one of the most effective third lines in the league.
“It just goes deeper than him coming in here and putting up some decent numbers,” Carlyle said. “[Mentoring is] a responsibility that [Henrique] takes very seriously.
“[Kase] is like that Energizer Bunny down low. If you can have people get him the puck in those situations, and then if you get Big Ritch going to the front of the net taking people to him, that allows Kase and Henrique to move the puck effectively in the offensive zone. If they’re not doing that, then it’s part of their not being effective — that’s their game.
“The trio seems to work well off one another, and at times they’ve gone flat. There were seven or eight games in a row where they didn’t provide, and our hockey club missed that, because I think there was a 10-game span where they carried our group.”
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