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Giguere to Tender Opinion

The Ducks' decision on whether to play him may ride on how he feels after morning skate.

April 23, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

CALGARY, Canada — To the surprise of no one, Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals between the Mighty Ducks and Calgary Flames developed into a goaltending duel, but it was one that Jean-Sebastien Giguere didn't take part in.

Giguere did not play because of a lower-body injury aggravated in practice earlier this week, leading to the question of the day Saturday: Will he play in Game 2?

After working through a 40-minute practice session, the goaltender addressed the question.

"It's ultimately up to me I guess," Giguere said. "If I feel like I'm ready and I can do everything I can on the ice to help my team be successful, [then] they'll let me play."

Giguere said he felt better after the optional team workout but said the true test will come in today's morning skate when a decision probably will be made before tonight's crucial game for the Ducks after a 2-1 loss in overtime Friday.

"He was moving OK, but the drills we had him do, there were only six guys [on the ice]," said Francois Allaire, the Ducks' goaltending consultant. "What he had to do, he did it properly."

Giguere said he doesn't want to be a liability and added that he would rather sit a game than injure himself more severely and be out for the entire series.

"My whole game is about my lower body," he said. "If any part of my leg is not good, it can be troublesome. You can't afford to be 95% in the type of game I want to play. You have to be 100%. "

In his first NHL playoff game, Ilya Bryzgalov answered any questions about his readiness as he matched Calgary star Miikka Kiprusoff for 69 minutes 45 seconds before Darren McCarty scored the game winner.

Despite being a late replacement, Bryzgalov made 28 saves and played with the poise of a veteran. He has proven to be a worthy option for the Ducks in his first full season in the NHL.

During the regular season, the 25-year-old Russian logged a 13-12-1 record but posted impressive numbers in goals-against average (2.51) and save percentage (.910).

The free-spirited Bryzgalov likes cartoons and has pictures of Daffy Duck on one side of his mask and Donald Duck on the other.

Asked if he was ready Friday after learning only hours before that he would start, Bryzgalov compared himself to a soldier defending his net. "The net is my country," he said.

"You never know what he's thinking," forward Teemu Selanne said. "I don't think he feels any pressure. He has been so solid for us the whole year. We have full trust in him."

Bryzgalov said the 31 games he played boosted his development.

"When you play a lot, it helps you," Bryzgalov said. "You have more experience, you have more confidence."

Giguere said he wants to make a decision as early as possible.

"I want to make sure there's no gray area for Bryz," he said. "I don't want to be a distraction for the rest of my team."

*

General Manager Brian Burke said that although he expects the salary cap will go as high as $46 million next season, fans should not expect the team to spend to the limit "because our revenues won't support it." Burke said the Ducks expect to lose $15 million this season, although a deep playoff run could offset some of the losses.

"We'll have to lose money now, but it doesn't mean we're willing to lose money indefinitely," he said.

Times staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this report.

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