Team Finland was shaping up quite nicely Wednesday night and, well, after all, the boss happened to be in town.
Finnish legend Jari Kurri, now the general manager of Team Finland, watched the Ducks beat the Red Wings, 4-0, and his friend and countryman Teemu Selanne scored his 23rd goal of the season, No. 660 of his career, and his 1,400th point. Assisting on Selanne's goal was his countryman Saku Koivu, who was honored by the Ducks and the league with a pregame ceremony, receiving a standing ovation
from the fans at Honda Center.
Koivu on Monday in Colorado played in his 1,000th NHL game. In that game, Selanne passed Kurri on the all-time scoring list, taking sole possession of 19th place. The Ducks paid homage to Selanne's accomplishment in the first period on the way to their first win in four games.
Scoring twice for the Ducks was rookie forward Kyle Palmieri. Goalie Jonas Hiller, who faced 23 shots, recorded his fourth shutout of the season and 15th of his career. Bobby Ryan had the other goal for the Ducks, captain Ryan Getzlaf added two assists and it was the first time the Ducks have managed to shut out the Red Wings in Anaheim.
The Ducks were playing without their leading goal scorer Corey Perry and defenseman Luca Sbisa, but the Red Wings are clearly adrift without captain and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and the dynamic Pavel Datsyuk.
Without the injured Perry and his 34 goals, the Ducks needed someone to step forward to connect with Getzlaf and Ryan, and it was the 21-year-old Palmieri, who has spent a lot of time flying back and forth between Syracuse and Anaheim. He admitted that it has been tough on him this season.
"It was an awesome night for me," said Palmieri, who stripped the puck from Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith to score unassisted, at 15:49 of the second period for his first goal of the game, making it 2-0.
Said Selanne: "A guy like Kyle, he has to play on the first two lines. There is a reason why he is in the league, why he got drafted. It's not to be on the third line or the fourth line."
Selanne, 41, talked fondly about watching the young players develop. But Kurri did some walking down memory lane. He remembered first meeting Selanne about 20 years ago and marveled at his friend's continued speed and resilience.
"It should be the other way: The older you get, you get slower," Kurri said.
Kurri will be putting together Finland's team for the World Championships, which will be held in Helsinki. They take place after the NHL's regular season.
This is merely an early step to assess how potential players might be feeling about playing at the worlds.
"We give them 10 more games and see what happens and then we react. It's as simple as that," Kurri said.
It is, of course, not easy to say no to Kurri.
"That's why it's good I don't have to make a decision now when it's face to face," Selanne said, smiling. "I told him, 'Let's see how I feel after the season.' I said earlier, now it's young guys turn.
"One year he flew here to pick me up [for the worlds]. He said, 'I'm not leaving before we are flying together.'"