You could say it was creative, take-your-foot-off-the-pedal coaching methodology leading up to the last playoff game between the Ducks and the Calgary Flames.
Old-school and the often-crusty coach Randy Carlyle decided to cancel Ducks practice and took the lads to a pool hall in Calgary the day before Game 7 of a first-round series in 2006. On a TV was a "Classic NHL" game featuring Winnipeg and Edmonton, one staffer remembered Wednesday.
Carlyle was playing defense for the Jets in that particular game, and his players especially enjoyed watching him get schooled by the Oilers' Wayne Gretzky on one play.
Can't say the tactic didn't work. Anaheim won, 3-0, the next night in Game 7 with goalie Ilya Bryzgalov getting the first playoff shutout of his career.
"I got hurt in Game 7," said the Ducks' Corey Perry, who did not return until Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against Edmonton, missing the second round versus Colorado.
With more than a week between playoff rounds, the Ducks have had plenty of time to rest, recharge and even skate down memory lane before Thursday's Game 1 at Honda Center against the Flames.
Heck, they had enough time for a best-of-seven competition at a local pool hall. Luckily for the Ducks, they have grown accustomed to these long breaks.
"We did it at the end of the season," Perry said. "We had a lot of days. I think we only had one game the last week, the last week and a half. It's kind of the same thing. You've got to go out and get ready, get prepared to play hockey."
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau suspects the rust, if there is any, will disappear fairly quickly.
"I think the hunger of the players is going to make it not rusty; that's what I'm hoping," he said Wednesday after practice. "There might be the odd missed pass early because we haven't played in game situations with guys that don't like playing against us. But I think the enthusiasm, the will and the want is going to overtake the so-called rust."
Center Nate Thompson — who has been out since suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury in the regular-season finale — skated on the fourth line Wednesday with wingers Tim Jackman and Emerson Etem. Tomas Fleischmann, who had stepped in admirably at center in the last series, stayed on the ice for extra work to stay sharp.
Much has been made about the Ducks facing their former goalie, the Flames' Jonas Hiller. Boudreau said he appreciated the unique set of circumstances but wasn't going to dwell on it. Hiller was with the Ducks for seven years before leaving for Calgary via free agency.
"It's nice to see him go and have success elsewhere," Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. "It is ironic that we meet again and both teams are trying to get to the next level. I'm sure it's ironic for him as much it is for us.
"But I don't think come game time, either one of us are going to be thinking about our past history."
The same holds true for the historical lock the Ducks have on the Flames at Honda Center. They lost to Calgary in Game 3 in the first round of the playoffs in 2006, but the Flames have not won in Anaheim in the regular season since Jan. 2004, a run of 20 games.
"When that puck drops, nobody is thinking about the previous games at the Honda Center," Fowler said. "It's a whole new series."
Especially considering many of the Flames' top players were not around for much of that streak. Their top line features rookie Johnny Gaudreau, second-year center Sean Monahan and veteran Jiri Hudler, who spent most of his career in Detroit before joining the Flames in the 2012-13 season.
The dynamic trio combined for 10 points in the series-clinching Game 6 against Vancouver.
"I don't think a whole lot changes from series to series, from trying to shut down their top guys," Fowler said. "It's trying to make life difficult on them and not give them time and space to make plays. That's obviously a challenge no matter how you say it or how you word it."
Said Perry: "They're a great skating group. You can't give them time and space. If you eliminate that, hopefully you don't allow them to gain that blue line."
©2015 the Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at latimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.