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Teemu Selanne's performance launches Ducks to good start

January 20, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Ducks' Teemu Selanne takes a breather during practice
Ducks' Teemu Selanne takes a breather during practice (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Teemu Selanne’s scoring exploits simply defy description. The Ducks right wing opened his 21st NHL season Saturday by contributing two goals and two assists in the team’s 7-3 rout of the Canucks at Vancouver, another stellar performance in a seemingly never-ending career.

On Saturday, at age 42 years and 200 days, Selanne became the oldest NHL player to record four points in a single game since Gordie Howe had a one-goal, three-assist performance for Detroit against Buffalo on Feb. 20, 1971. Selanne was seven months old then.

“It’s an amazing thing. You don’t expect it but it happens,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said by phone Sunday. “I know he can play better. He’s had better nights. But everything he touched was gold [Saturday] night. It was great.”

Selanne was a guest on Hockey Night in Canada’s After Hours show, a terrific interview you can watch here.

In Boudreau’s eyes, what was even better than Selanne’s standout showing was the balanced scoring the Ducks produced in overpowering the Canucks and sending goalie Cory Schneider to the bench in favor of Roberto Luongo.

Depth up front beyond Selanne, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan has been a weakness for the Ducks the last few seasons, but they got scoring from beyond those top four Saturday. Boudreau hopes it was a good omen for what’s to come.

“I really liked the balance, quite frankly,” he said. “When I got to Anaheim last year, there was only one goal between the third and fourth line after 21 games, and Dan Winnik got two last night and Kyle Palmieri and Perry get one, and Selanne gets two so those three lines contributed. And the fourth line had a lot of good opportunities in the third.

“I think when you can get that balance, that’s going to make you successful. It was, I think, one of the main reasons L.A. won the Cup last year.”

The Ducks practiced in Calgary on Sunday to prepare for Monday’s game there against the Flames. Boudreau said some of their work centered on resolving problems related to their revamped defense corps. Cam Fowler missed Saturday’s game because of the flu but skated Sunday and might return Monday.

“If you look at who played — Jordan Hendry, Bryan Allen, Sheldon Souray -- all those guys weren’t in the lineup at this time last year,” he said, adding that he also had to play Luca Sbisa and Francois Beauchemin out of position. “We haven’t gotten anywhere where I think we’re going to be, but it’s a constant work thing, like everything else.”

Selanne played 15 minutes and eight seconds Saturday, below the 17:52 he averaged last season. Afterward, Selanne said he hadn’t gotten his legs yet, and Boudreau agreed.

“He is so good with the puck, knowing where other people are. He’s scored [665] goals: he knows what to do with it,” Boudreau said. “But like everybody else, I’ve seen him with more energy and skate better but it wasn’t because of his age. It was because it was the first game, with no preseason.”

Just having games to coach and watch made Boudreau a happy camper. His own energy, he said, was exceptional.

“I was excited. The one great thing about playing in Vancouver, on the West Coast, is we got to see hockey from noon on,” he said. “It was like Christmas.”

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