Winnipeg Jets (0-0) at Anaheim Ducks (0-0), 10:30 p.m. (ET)

( – The Anaheim Ducks hope to get off to a quick start in
the 2015 playoffs when they host the Winnipeg Jets for Game 1 of the Western
Conference quarterfinals on Thursday.

The Ducks are the West’s top seed for a second straight spring and Pacific
Division champions for a third consecutive season.

However, Anaheim hasn’t moved past the second round since winning the Stanley
Cup in 2007 and have been eliminated in a Game 7 at home in each of the past
two playoffs. Last spring they were unseated by the eventual-champion Los
Angeles Kings.

If anything, Anaheim appears to be built this season for playoff hockey. The
Ducks set NHL records by winning 33 one-goal games and also rallied for 18
victories when trailing at any point in the third period.

Forwards and top-line mates Ryan Getzlaf (25 goals, 45 assists) and Corey
Perry (33G, 22A) remain a formidable 1-2 scoring punch, but the offseason
addition of solid two-way center Ryan Kesler helped as well. He reached the
20-goal mark and logged nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game.

Anaheim had seven forwards reach double-digits in goals scored, but one who
didn’t, Patrick Maroon, would open the postseason on a line with Getzlaf and

The Ducks lack a true superstar at the blue line and yielded 2.70 goals per
game (20th in the league), so head coach Bruce Boudreau may roll all three
pairings out equally at even strength.

Boudreau is also likely to go with Frederik Andersen as his goaltender for
this series. Andersen matched an NHL record as the fastest goaltender to 50
career wins and went 35-12-5 with a 2.38 goals against average and .914 save
percentage in 54 games.

Paul Maurice, meanwhile, has finally established the Jets’ identity and it
resulted in the franchise’s second-ever playoff berth. With Maurice behind the
bench, Winnipeg has become a hard-working, grinding team that can wear down
the competition. With that persona in tow, Winnipeg set a club record with 99
points and reached the postseason for the first time since the Atlanta
Thrashers were swept out of the first round in 2007. The franchise will be
seeking its first-ever playoff win tonight.

Playoff hockey will eventually return to Winnipeg for the first time since
1996, with the city losing its original franchise to Arizona via relocation.
However, the first two tilts will be in Anaheim with Game 2 set for Saturday
before the Jets host the third meeting Monday at MTS Centre.

The leadership trio of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler composite
the Jets’ identity and finished 1-2-3 on the club in scoring. Wheeler paced
the club with 26 goals to go along with 61 points, Ladd led the way with 62
points and matched Little’s 24 goal.

It was the rest of the roster that finally caught on. Mark Scheifele pivots
the second line and logged 49 points, while the likes of Mathieu Perreault (18
goals, 23 assists) and Michael Frolik (19G, 42A) excel in multiple roles.

Winnipeg also added a number of key pieces before the trade deadline, none
bigger than the blockbuster deal that sent enigma Evander Kane and blueliner
Zach Bogosian to the Buffalo Sabres for forward Drew Stafford and defenseman
Tyler Myers.

Stafford had nine goals and 19 points in 26 games with the Jets and fellow
pickups Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty were brought in for much-needed depth.

Myers, meanwhile, added 15 points and was a plus-9 in 24 games with Winnipeg,
fitting in with a defensive grouping that added Dustin Byfuglien mid-season as

Byfuglien opened the campaign as a forward, but has experience on the blue
line and was shifted to the role in December after a rash of injuries robbed
the Jets of a number of defensemen. Byfuglien excelled in a big way after the
move, continuing to produce on offense while adding another physical presence
at the back end.

Maurice used Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson at different times this
season as the No. 1 goaltender, but Pavelec won the job back late in the
season and should be the starter going forward.

This will be the first ever playoff meeting between the Ducks and the current
Jets. Anaheim swept the three-game season series, winning twice in Winnipeg
prior to a shootout win at home on Jan. 11.

Andersen started all three meetings and is 4-0 with a 2.68 GAA and .912 save
percentage in five games (4 starts) all-time in the series. Pavelec started a
pair of games versus the Ducks this season, but is only 1-1-3 with a 3.53 GAA
and .900 save percentage in five career encounters.