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Ducks know how to combat Red Wings in Game 7: Control traffic

Sheldon SouraySaku KoivuAnaheim DucksJonas HillerDetroit Red WingsCory Emmerton

Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray answered the question with an excellent one of his own.

The topic was how best to combat, at least within the rules, the Red Wings’ often-formidable presence in front of the net, one of the key factors in their Game 6 win at Detroit.

“If you find out, would you let us know?” Souray said after the Ducks' morning skate Sunday, several hours before Game 7 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Being his usual thoughtful self, Souray went on to give a complete answer, filled with a bit of Red Wings history and present-day assessment.

“You’ve got to try to establish position before they do, which is easier said than done,” Souray said. “Those guys have made a living for many years — [Johan] Franzen, [Daniel] Cleary — before that, [Tomas] Holmstrom.

“They know how to get in front of the net. They know that the rules are probably a little more advantageous to them now. It’s hard to move them. If you get position early, you try to establish your position before they get there.”

But the key is not to make it even more problematic for Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller.

“Once they do get there, I think it’s important for us to not try to get tangled up with them because then you have two bodies in front of [Hiller] instead of just one,” Souray said. “And you’ve got to really hope for that first save and make sure you’re alert and they don’t get any second chances.”

Hiller’s goals-against average in the series is 2.37 with a save percentage of .919, and he had a shutout in Game 3.

“He’s come up big all the time when we’ve needed him in pressure situations,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I anticipate that he’ll play a very good game tonight. The last thing I worry about right now, quite frankly, is goaltending. I’m not worried about our goalie.”

The Red Wings will feature one lineup change for Game 7 as Patrick Eaves will return, replacing Cory Emmerton on the fourth line. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk combined for three goals and six points in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win in Game 6.

“They’re both going to be in the Hall of Fame some day,” Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said on Saturday. “They’re special players and we’d like to end their season tomorrow.”

::

Saku Koivu’s son, Aatos, has started playing hockey, joining a youth team in Aliso Viejo. Koivu brought it up when talking about the impressive growth of hockey in Southern California.

So does Aatos model his game after dad?

“Let’s take it easy now,” Koivu said, smiling.

Of course, Aatos is only 6 years old. Koivu added, helpfully: “He’s a right-handed shot, which is a good thing.”

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