If there was any question about how the Ducks would try to handle Winnipeg’s big bodies, part of the answer emerged at Thursday’s morning skate. Game 1 is at Honda Center Thursday night.
Defenseman Clayton Stoner in. Defenseman James Wisniewski out.
It obviously came as a surprise to Wisniewski, a major trade-deadline acquisition for the Ducks in a multiplayer deal with Columbus. They paid a decent price for him, too, sending the Blue Jackets veteran forward Rene Bourque, youngster William Karlsson and a second-round pick in the 2015 draft.
“You're never really expecting this ... it is what it is,” Wisniewski said. “You've got to be ready to play when you're called upon and be professional and help any way possible with work ethic and practices. And try to be a leader and help out anybody else however you can.”
Anaheim Coach Bruce Boudreau’s explanation was straightforward, praising the effective pairing of Stoner and Sami Vatanen.
“They have been teamed up all year,” he said. “Sami seems to play his best with Clayton and now Clayton is fully healthy. So I don’t see why he would lose his position. He’s been injured a little bit down the stretch.
“Now that he’s healthy, I think those two have made a great pair all year.”
Boudreau was impressed by what Stoner did in the playoffs with the Wild last season.
“He’s a big-bodied guy,” he said. “My best memory is that I watched him in the playoffs with Minnesota in that first round and he might have been the best defenseman on the ice. He rises to that occasion and has in the past.
“He’s a physical player and we’re playing against a big, physical team.”
The Ducks are putting Patrick Maroon on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
"Patrick was on the line when we played Winnipeg in all three games," Boudreau said. "And we had success .... Everything we do is for Game 1. Game 2 can be a lot of changes, hopefully not too many changes, but this is all for Game 1."