They could be called, “The last four standing.” If the circumstances were rosier, perhaps a catchy nickname would be appropriate.
Instead, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Cam Fowler and Andrew Cogliano have the distinction of being the only remaining Ducks players to have played in Anaheim’s three straight Game 7 losses at home.
Tough lessons, indeed, and Cogliano sees a common denominator to those losses that the Ducks should heed going into another Game 7 at home, against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday in a first-round series finale.
The Ducks have been tentative in Game 7 losses to Detroit in 2013, to the Kings in 2014 and to Chicago last season.
Fowler is playing in his fourth Game 7 at 24 and, despite the losing history, said, “I’m still just as excited as the first one.” He said there is a tendency to get caught up in the emotions of a Game 7 and get away from what produced success in the first place.
In that regard, the Ducks are smarter this time around.
“You can’t go out there and play not to lose,” Fowler said. “You have to play aggressive. You have to play on your toes. … You have to do the things that got you here as a team and, for us, that’s playing aggressive, that’s [being] physical, because any time we sit back and we wait for teams, that’s when we get in trouble.”
That was the case against Detroit when the Ducks seized up like an engine without oil. After that Game 7, former Ducks winger Bobby Ryan said that the puck seemed like it was five feet away from them all night.
Poor starts in similar tepid fashion doomed the Ducks in the past two Game 7s.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews single-handedly gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead 12 minutes into Game 7 last season. In 2014, the Kings jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals by Justin Williams, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.
The Ducks are loathe to talk about that past but can’t get away from it until they solve the issue. They would like the experience to count for something. Ducks players have played a combined 40 Game 7s to 11 for Nashville, which is playing the first Game 7 in franchise history.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he spoke to his team Tuesday — a move he said he hasn’t done before past Game 7s — but wouldn’t disclose his message. He agreed with Cogliano and Fowler.
“You don’t get anywhere by playing not to lose,” Boudreau said. “You have to play to win. That’s what they [the Predators] did the last couple of games.”
Boudreau indicated a lineup change. Defenseman Clayton Stoner is available from an upper-body injury and could play considering rookie defenseman Shea Theodore played a series-low 11 minutes, 43 seconds in Game 6. Stoner has played in two Game 7s, including an overtime win while playing for the Minnesota Wild against the Colorado Avalanche.
Forwards Chris Wagner, Mike Santorelli and defenseman Korbinian Holzer also are available.
“One’s going to go in,” Boudreau said of his extra players. “I don’t know which one. At least one.”
Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @CurtisZupke