ANAHEIM, CALIF. - In the NBA, most practices are closed to the media until the very end, when players are just shooting around. In the NFL, security fences and tarps are used to protect game-plan secrets from any onlookers.
In the NHL, not only is practice open to reporters, it's open to opposing coaches. On Thursday, Wild coach Jacques Lemaire and goaltending coach Bob Mason watched Anaheim's entire practice from the stands. Even though Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said it didn't bother him, he also told reporters of Lemaire's presence -- twice -- without being asked as he began his news conference.
Round 1 of the playoffs isn't even two games old, and already there's a little gamesmanship going on.
Lemaire made clear he watched the Ducks' practice for one reason. "I went into the stands pretty much because we came in and practiced around 3:30 Tuesday," he said, "and they were all in the press box upstairs and watching our practice. ... There's nothing wrong with that. If that's what they want to do, that's OK. So I went to see what they did today.
"Every team does that. It's no big deal."
Asked if he learned anything, Lemaire said, "You always do."
Currently unemployed Pat Quinn, who coached four teams over 19 years, was legendary in expressing irritation when opposing coaches watched practice. Carlyle insists he doesn't care.
"Some people get a little wired up about it," Carlyle said. "Building's open. It's [Lemaire's] prerogative. It's not really going to make that much of a difference if he watches our practice. They've got enough tape. ... There's not a tremendous amount of secrets that both teams possess."
Asked if he planned to watch the Wild's practice later Thursday, Carlyle said, "Yeah, I'll watch their skate."
Carlyle sees a big similarity between 36-year-old Teemu Selanne and 25-year-old Marian Gaborik, and it was highlighted Wednesday when Selanne broke free from Nick Schultz for a breakaway and Gaborik broke free from Scott Niedermayer.
"[Selanne's] biggest asset is his ability to get away from people," Carlyle said. "He gets himself in a position where he's comfortable and it looks like everybody else struggles to get in those positions. Same thing with Gaborik. Those are unique and special individuals when they can get away from people. It's not like [Gaborik] had Randy Carlyle chasing him, he had Scott Niedermayer."
Gaborik wound up hitting the post while being hooked by Niedermayer from behind.
Lemaire is looking for better play from Brian Rolston, and he said he thinks he's going to get it. "Roli's trying," he said. "Things are not rolling for him. But he's trying to forecheck. He'll be OK. He's going to get his share of points or what he can bring to the team."
The Wild went 0-for-4 on the power play Wednesday and is 3-for-28 (10.7 percent) against Anaheim this season.
"We moved the puck good, but we have to get more pucks to the net," Pavol Demitra said. "We talked a lot about it today."
It sounds as if Lemaire will go with the same lineup tonight, at least at forward. Asked if he'd want to play Adam Hall because he has size and crashes the net, Lemaire said, "Who's going to come out?"
Left winger Derek Boogaard said the Anaheim ice is the worst he's seen. "Us big guys were just sinking," said the 6-7 Boogaard. "It's awful."