The Ducks and Calgary Flames took different approaches in addressing the elephant in the room Monday.
The Ducks coaxed it to a quieter place. The Flames stood it up on its hind legs.
The obvious, yet uncomfortable, topic in their upcoming best-of-seven first-round playoff series is the knee-to-knee hit by Flames defenseman Mark Giordano that took out Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler last Tuesday. The play enraged the Ducks, and General Manager Bob Murray sent a salvo across the Canadian border last week when he opined that Giordano’s hit was “somewhat” intentional.
Calgary General Manager Brad Treliving fired back Monday.
“Cam Fowler is an elite player,” Treliving told reporters. “I want to make that very clear — you always want players to be healthy this time of year. But for someone to suggest that Mark Giordano is a dirty player and that was an intentional hit, obviously I think those are asinine comments.”
Treliving went on to say, “Mark Giordano is a true pro. And we’re going to go into the series not worried about what’s happened before. I don’t think making comments about opposing players … there’s a method to the madness [so] as to try and put something in the officials’ head going into the series. But we’re not focused on that.”
Giordano was not penalized by on-ice officials and did not face any discipline by the league. Fowler is out for two to six weeks. Murray’s irritation stemmed from a 2011 game in which Giordano was involved in a knee-on-knee hit with then-Ducks forward Bobby Ryan.
“I have no use for knee-on-knee hits, especially if I think they’re somewhat intentional,” Murray said. “He’s done this before. I have no respect for people who go after knees.”
It’s difficult to think those vibes won’t reverberate in a series that starts Thursday at Honda Center. The Flames and Ducks were the two most penalized teams in the NHL this season, and the Ducks are aware of the flammability.
“We’ll definitely address that, I’m sure,” center Ryan Getzlaf said. “Just because of the way the season ended with those guys and the things that went on. Playoffs are all about turning the page.”
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle has managed these flare-ups before, often from the other end. His 2007 Stanley Cup team was famously a bullying outfit that led the NHL in fighting and was a public enemy because of two Chris Pronger suspensions that spring.
The Ducks have emphasized restraint in not mouthing off to officials, and they don’t want emotions to distract them from their goal.
“It’s our job to control it,” Carlyle said. “You get into playoffs, you have to be even more disciplined in your acts. You cannot let emotions, opposition, officiating, crowd noise, whatever, bad bounce, take you out of what you set out to do. And you’ve got to stay focused and stay in the moment.”
As far as hockey, the Ducks recognize Calgary’s north-south offense with forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Carlyle pointed to its mobile back end.
“They like to play fast and have skill,” center Antoine Vermette said. “They have that youth. I’m sure they’re going to be excited. It’s always a challenge in the playoffs. It’s a noisy game, as they say.”
The Ducks failed to sell out Honda Center in 11 of their final 13 games but usually pack the house for the postseason and will have vitriol for Calgary, which last won here in 2006, in Carlyle’s first playoff series with Anaheim.
The Ducks hold an NHL-record 25-game regular-season home winning streak against the Flames.
“There’s two ways to look at it,” Carlyle said of the streak. “One, you can say we’re going to roll with it and the other one is, inevitably, somewhere it’s going to get broken. This is sports. It’s team sports. Inevitably, at some point it’s going to get broken.”
Carlyle is in touch with how much the Flames are a part of their community, and how bright the spotlight gets this time of year.
“In a Canadian market, the pressure will be applied from a standpoint that they’re going to have to show up and play their game,” Carlyle said. “Do what they do. The talk shows, the media, the coaching staff. Everybody’s going to be asking them to be as combative and as tough an opponent as they can possibly be.”
Winger Patrick Eaves came out fine from an upper-body injury Sunday and should be ready for Game 1, Carlyle said. … Defenseman Korbinian Holzer returned to the Ducks after going home to Germany for a personal matter.