Rookie center Matt Cullen didn't know what sort of goals to set in his first training camp with the Ducks.
"I wanted to leave a lasting impression," he said. "I didn't know what to expect. I was hoping I would play up to my ability. I was hoping to play my best and make the team."
Mission accomplished, although he took a short detour to play with Cincinnati of the American Hockey League last month. After five games in the minors, Cullen joined the Ducks on Oct. 28 and he's been impossible to move out of the lineup since.
Imagine his excitement on the occasions he has played on the same line as right wing Teemu Selanne. Cullen hasn't been a frequent center for Selanne, but it's been a thrill each time he's skated with him.
"You kind of have to pinch yourself when you look at who you're playing with," said Cullen, the Ducks' second-round draft pick from St. Cloud State in 1996. "I just came to camp for the first time this year. This has been an unbelievable experience that's for sure."
If Cullen were merely an awe-struck youngster if would be one thing, but he's been a steady contributor too. He had five assists in seven games before Wednesday.
Cullen on Selanne: "Sometimes on the bench, I look at him and shake my head. You can't believe the stuff he does out there. He's always open. It's amazing. Everybody knows who's going to score our goals and yet he's always open."