ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – From the moment Stephane Robidas was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Anaheim Ducks last month, he realized he might end up facing his former teammates in the first round of the playoffs.
Although the veteran defenseman is giving up everything he knows about the wild-card Stars, Robidas realizes his postseason fate rests on the powerhouse Ducks’ will, not any special knowledge of an upstart opponent that had Anaheim’s number in the regular season.
“There’s things that I know, but it’s up to the players on the ice,” Robidas said. “They really did me a favor to give me a chance to play for a Stanley Cup when they didn’t know if they were going to make the playoffs. There’s no hard feelings, but they know I really want to beat them.”
Anaheim hosts the Stars in Game 1 on Wednesday night.
The Ducks earned the Western Conference’s top record and another Pacific Division title, setting records for wins (54), points (116), goals (263) and comeback victories (26) while finishing one point behind Boston for the Presidents’ Trophy. None of it means anything to captain Ryan Getzlaf unless Anaheim gets past Dallas, which squeaked into its first postseason since 2008.
Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne have won just one playoff round together since the Ducks captured their only Stanley Cup title in 2007. Coach Bruce Boudreau has led Anaheim back to the top of the standings, but the Ducks haven’t advanced in the postseason since 2009, losing in the first round to seventh-seeded Detroit last year.
“Nobody remembers the team that had the best regular season in franchise history,” Getzlaf said. “It’s all about winning in the playoffs. I’ve been here nine years, and the only year we ever talk about is the year we won the cup.”
After five seasons out of the playoffs, the Stars are happy to be playing still, but they’ve also got ample reason to think they can beat Anaheim. Dallas won two of three against the Ducks this season, and its speed is a challenge for Anaheim’s defense and goaltending.
“A big thing with the playoffs is you’ve got to hate the other team, so that’s what we’re going to be doing right from the puck-drop,” Dallas forward Tyler Seguin said.
Panthers win draft lottery
New York — NHL draft lottery losers last year, the Florida Panthers had their number come up this year.
In the meantime, chalk up yet another loss for the Buffalo Sabres.
The Panthers bucked the odds Tuesday by jumping up a spot and earned the right to the top pick in June. Florida, which finished 29th in the league, vaulted ahead of the last-place Sabres, who had the best odds of winning the lottery held in Toronto.
“It means a lot to us. We’ve very excited,” said Travis Viola, Panthers president of hockey operations. “We’re looking to continue to build on our core talent of young players. It’s just a great opportunity.”
It also marked a reversal of fortune for Florida.
After finishing last a year ago, the Panthers were relegated to the No. 2 pick after Colorado won the lottery.
The top two projected prospects are left wing Samuel Bennett, of OHL Kingston, who finished first in the final rankings released by NHL Central Scouting last week, and OHL Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
The draft will be held in Philadelphia on June 27-28.
The Panthers (29-45-8) had an 18.8 percent chance of winning the lottery, behind only Buffalo (21-51-10), which had a 25 percent shot.
The Sabres continued what’s been a losing trend since the season began in October.