By Lisa Dillman
3:11 PM EDT, May 10, 2013
DETROIT -- David Steckel’s history with Bruce Boudreau goes well beyond their time together in Washington, winding all the way back to tours of duty in Manchester, N.H., and Hershey, Pa.
Steckel, who was a first-round draft pick of the Kings in 2001, was reunited with his old coach in Anaheim when the Ducks acquired the faceoff specialist from the Toronto Maple Leafs in March in exchange for a minor-league player and a future draft pick.
Boudreau long has been the quintessential communicator with his players, and remains so. But Steckel said he has noticed some subtle differences since rejoining Boudreau almost two months ago.
“He’s still the same Bruce,” Steckel said after Friday’s morning skate before playoff Game 6. “When it’s time to work hard, you work hard and when it’s time for play, he’ll can go out there and he’ll joke around with the best of you.
“I will say the only thing that has changed is, I think, his demeanor behind the bench. In certain circumstances, he’s calmed down a bit. We’re a pretty young team in Wash when I was there, and a lot of people got excited in a hurry.
“That’s the thing I noticed most, it’s pretty apparent now. Whether that comes with the experience that we have in this room, it might be a little easier.”
Steckel’s ice time had been limited in Toronto, and he appeared in 13 games with the Maple Leafs this season. He is averaging a little more than 10 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs and has a goal and an assist in this series.
“I can’t thank him enough for going to bat with me,” he said of Boudreau. “Anytime someone goes to bat for you, you don’t want to let them down. As far as the role he’s given me, I’ve had to earn it as well. I like to think that with continued hard work I can keep it.”
Steckel has one more goal in this series than teammate Corey Perry.
“He’s got more goals in one year than I probably have in my career,” Steckel said.
Voting for the Hart Trophy (the NHL’s most valuable player) was a topic of conversation in the dressing room, a talking point because the three finalists were all from the Eastern Conference.
They were Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Alex Ovechkin (Washington) and John Tavares (New York Islanders). The Ducks were not surprised by the Eastern tilt.
“I think Getzy [Ryan Getzlaf] did everything that this team asked, even more,” Teemu Selanne said. “Obviously, we’re always going to be ... [in the West]. Actually, I was very happy to see Corey [Perry] won one year because we are not like the [big] hockey markets.
“I hate to say that, but a lot of times they think it would be better for the league if it’s somebody who is in the big markets. That’s how it works. I’d can put Getzy’s name in that category anytime. All those three guys were in the East, right? That’s what I mean. How many games do you think, those guys who vote, saw Getzy play?”
Detroit will be making two changes for Game 6, inserting defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo in the lineup for defenseman Brian Lashoff, and Justin Abdelkader returns from his two-game suspension, meaning forward Patrick Eaves is the odd man out.
“It’s a real good question. I ask myself the same question,” Detroit Coach Mike Babcock said of Eaves being out. “He played good. Does what he’s supposed to, runs over people. Competitive guy.
“But because I know, I have a little more inside information than you do -- that I’m not sharing with you -- I’ve gotta have other guys to cover off other people in case they can’t survive. But I did the same thing that you just asked, it makes no sense to me.”
Babcock used an interesting analogy when he spoke about needing a better opening period than the Red Wings had in Game 5.
“We need to start better than that here tonight ,” he said. “I explained to one of our guys, one of the kids. It’s kind of like a lawn mower. You choke it and you start it and it’s revving for a few minutes to get going.
“We don’t need to be a lawn mower. We need to get that done in warm-up. We just need be idling, just perfect.”
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