Moments after his Ducks took care of their first playoff opponent in short order, Randy Carlyle shook hands with his coaching counterpart in Calgary’s Glen Gulutzan and then disappeared into the dressing room and then the small office for the visiting coaching staff at Scotiabank Saddledome.
A flight the next morning awaited him and then the process of planning for his next foe would begin Thursday as he and the players returned home to Orange County. But this first postseason triumph for Carlyle in eight years isn’t something he is going to gloat about.
Even if – given the criticism flowing in his and the Ducks’ direction after their June reunion – he might feel he has reason to do so.
“It’s not so much anything about me,” said Carlyle, who got his first series win since the Ducks’ 2009 first-round triumph over San Jose. “It’s more about the team. That feeling that you got the job done, I think that’s shared by every member of the hockey club and the organization. I don’t think it’s an individual thing.
“We all go about striving to have success. This is just one step along the way here. This is the first step for us.”
Winning four straight games over the underdog Flames makes a statement but the Ducks have a higher objective. This is a group that knows its championship window won’t remain open forever. Anything short of making a serious run at the Stanley Cup will be seen as a disappointment.
So while there was a boisterous celebration on the way to their room following the stunning Game 3 comeback, the Ducks were more muted Wednesday night after completing their sweep of a game Calgary squad fighting against the worst matchup it could draw.
“We had some veterans that delivered in situations,” said Carlyle, who turned 61 on Wednesday. “You can’t discredit the opposition in the Calgary Flames with the way they played. They were true to their word in that they deserved a better fate in some of the situations.”
But it is the Ducks that are moving on. And, by virtue of being the first team to advance this postseason, they’ll be sitting around for a while. It is possible they don’t begin their second-round tilt against either San Jose or Edmonton until next Thursday, as all first-round series must be completed.
The big benefit with that is extra rest and it will go a long way toward having Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen back within the defense corps, whose depth came into play in moving past the Flames. Carlyle wouldn’t go so far as to say Fowler and Vatanen could return for Game 1 but does expect both to appear in the series.
Fowler has not played since suffering a right knee injury on a hit from Calgary’s Mark Giordano on April 4. Vatanen played in Game 1 but did not make another appearance as he deals with a lingering upper-body injury.
“Obviously time is a favorable position for them,” Carlyle said. “Any player coming back off an injury would like a little extra time and this gives us…