While much of the pre-series chatter of the Flames-Ducks playoff series centered around how the Ducks would be able to defend against Flames’ stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, Game 1 reversed those thoughts. After Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf took control of Friday night’s game, people now wonder how Calgary might be able to stop him instead.
The Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens writes the 31-year-old scored the opening goal 52 seconds into the playoff series, then assisted on Rickard Rakell’s game-tying goal and then led the penalty killing unit in the final minutes to hold on for the victory. “He was huge for us last night,” said Rakell. “I mean, he did it all. When he plays like that, I think everybody else just wants to follow him. Hopefully that can just keep going”
The oft-overlooked Getzlaf has been leading the team with his energy and also has led the team in minutes played in Game 1. He fared well on faceoffs winning 12 of 20 Friday as well. Getzlaf has also been taking the lead on power plays, creating new problems for the Flames. “He’s got such good vision and poise with the puck,” Flames penalty killing defenseman Michael Stone said after Game 1. “He hangs on to it. You think he’s going to do one thing and he changes up and does something else. He’s got all the weapons when he’s back there looking at the whole ice.”
Other Western Notes:
- Ducks’ forward Nick Ritchie is expected to return to the lineup after a two-game suspension for tonight’s Game 2 playoff game against the Flames. Ritchie was suspended for the regular season finale and Game 1 of the playoffs for punching Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival on Apr. 6. Ritchie finished the season with 14 goals and 14 assists in 77 gacmes this season. Because of his return, prospect Ondrej Kase was sent back to San Diego. Kase had two shots on goal in Game 1.
- The Arizona Coyotes have agreed to sign the University of Minnesota-Duluth freshman goaltender Hunter Miska, who led the Bulldogs’ hockey team to the NCAA Championship game last month. Duluth News Tribune’s Matt Wellens writes that Miska, who went undrafted, will forgo his final three years of eligibility to sign with the Coyotes. The 21-year-old backstop posted a 2.20 GAA and a .920 save percentage in his lone season for UMD. For Arizona, it gives the Coyotes a young prospect to develop after a season in which Arizona finished with the third-worst Goals Against with a 3.15. This is the second year in a row that Minnesota-Duluth has lost their starting goalie to the NHL. Last year, sophomore goalkeeper Kasimir Kaskisuo signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs.