Rookie center Matt Cullen has been everything General Manager Jack Ferreira believed he would be, and then some.
Since Cullen was recalled Jan. 20 from Cincinnati of the American Hockey League, he has had five goals and 15 points in 27 games. Among NHL rookies, only Boston Bruin defenseman Sergei Samsonov (11 goals and 23 points) has had more points in that span.
But Cullen, 21, from St. Cloud (Minn.) State, has surprised the Ducks in other ways.
According to Ferreira, Cullen turned to the coaching staff while sitting on the bench during the March 13 brawl with the Dallas Stars and asked, "Do you want me go out there and start a fight?"
The coaches said, "Thanks, but no thanks."
But they still were pleased to see Cullen show a belligerent side not often shown by a playmaking center.
It was on display again in Friday's 6-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Cullen first goaded Coyote rookie Brad Isbister into taking a 10-minute misconduct penalty in the second period, then held his own during their third-period fight.
The Coyotes' lopsided victories over the Ducks were big news in Phoenix, where the words "payback" and "revenge" were tossed about repeatedly in newspapers and on TV.
For the record, only six Ducks who played Friday were even on the roster during their seven-game Western Conference quarterfinal series victory over the Coyotes last spring.
A troubling sign of the times? Three players cannot play in tonight's Ducks-Calgary Flames game because of post-concussion syndrome.
Duck left wing Paul Kariya suffered a concussion when he was leveled by Chicago Blackhawk defenseman Gary Suter on Feb. 1.
And Calgary defensemen Jamie Allison and Todd Simpson also are sidelined indefinitely because of the effects of a concussion suffered last month.
Tonight vs. Calgary
* Channel 9
Radio--KRLA (1110), KCKC (1350), KPLS (830).
Records--Ducks 24-40-11, Flames 25-36-13.
Record vs. Flames--2-2.
Update--Duck captain Teemu Selanne needs two goals in the final seven games to break his franchise record of 51, set last season, but he has been held without a goal in four consecutive games. Center Steve Rucchin has four goals and nine points in the last eight games. Mikhail Shtalenkov is expected to make his 14th consecutive start in goal. Calgary's 7-21-8 road record is the second worst in the NHL. One of the Flames' road victories was a 5-2 rout of the Ducks on Jan. 28. Theoren Fleury leads the Flames with 26 goals and 73 points. Dwayne Roloson, who started in Calgary's 3-1 victory Wednesday over the Dallas Stars, is expected to be in goal tonight.