Takeaways: Who To Play, Who To Sit?

Jeff Gross

As the regular season winds down, some last minute lineup tinkering is in order. Who deserves the ice time and who doesn't?

1. What better way to cap off a week of ugly hockey than to beat up on the Canucks yet again? Monday's game was the first 60-minute defensive effort the Ducks have put forward since before the Cam Fowler injury, but at this point of the season, I'm not sure how much that matters. The Ducks' last nine games came against teams that will miss the playoffs, and they went 6-2-1 in that stretch. In those games, the Ducks played a number of abysmal periods and a number of superb periods. I wouldn't read too much into it. What I would pay more attention to is the play of individual players. Stephane Robidas, Kyle Palmieri, and Daniel Winnik all looked like they've picked up their games as of late. Francois Beauchemin, Saku Koivu, Jonas Hiller, and now Luca Sbisa look like they're going the other way.

2. All this player talk brings to mind the issue about which Bruce Boudreau is criticized most often around these parts: personnel decisions. Koivu sat out the most recent of the thousand games against the Edmonton Oilers, and Rickard Rakell looked like he was at least as effective as the old, but not oldest, Finn. Does the kid deserve to play instead of Koivu? I say no. Koivu hasn't been very good, but the difference between him and his potential replacements isn't significant enough to warrant a change. Not unless the Ducks find themselves trailing in the second half of a playoff series. Then everything changes.

3. I'm not sure I can say the same for the oldest Finn. It would be sacrilegious to use his name and attach it to an accurate assessment of the quality of his play this season, so I'm not going to do that. But I will ask whether or not his ice time is more important that the team's ability to win come next week. He very simply is not one of the twelve best forwards in this organization right now.

4. The most contentious personnel decision of all is that which concerns the man between the pipes. Hiller hasn't been good lately, and Frederik Andersen should be healthy enough to play very soon. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was firmly entrenched in my belief that Hiller should start in Game One of the playoffs. But if he doesn't play well in his last games of the season, I'm not so sure he should get the start. Regardless of who gets the job, the leash ought to be as short as it's ever been on an Anaheim goaltender in the playoffs.

5. Matt Beleskey looks pretty good with the Twins, but so does everybody else. I'm done trying to pick a favorite. Ryan Getzlaf in particular seems to have a playoff mode that he can go into once the games really start to matter. If he and Corey Perry, who has been better than Getzlaf in the last few weeks, can turn it on, it doesn't matter who they play with. What matters is what the rest of the team can do.

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