ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jason Blake will miss at least one more game for the Anaheim Ducks.
Blake did not participate in the team’s morning skate Wednesday and coach Bruce Boudreau said he is still recovering from a foot injury that kept him out Tuesday night.
“It’s lingering,” Boudreau said. “It’s still there. Unless there’s a miracle, he’s not going to be on the ice tonight.”
The red-hot Ducks kept rolling without the veteran Blake. They put hard-forechecking winger Matt Beleskey in Blake’s spot beside young center Nick Bonino and the veteran Andrew Cogliano.
Cogliano recorded his first hat trick Tuesday and Bonino has ably filled the third-line center role.
Boudreau likes Bonino and his line as a whole.
“Especially, on the road, (they) end up playing against the other team’s top line,” Boudreau said. “When you can be responsible defensively in your own zone, that’s so important. And that’s what I’ve thought. (Bonino) doesn’t get caught too often as the third guy high he gets back in the zone. He’s got a good stick. He reads the play well and anticipates really well.”
Kyle Palmieri was recalled from Syracuse in case Blake is out longer than expected.
Benn returns: Jamie Benn played in the All-Star game but Wednesday night marks his official return from emergency appendectomy surgery.
Benn said he recovered fully just before the break and he wasn’t necessarily curious to see how the first game will go.
“Not curious – just excited,” Benn said. “I’m ready to go – two big points on the line. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the ice with the guys.”
Benn won the accuracy shooting portion of the Skills Competition. Asked if that tells him anything more about his game, he joked, “If I’m standing in the slot by myself, not moving, I guess I should shoot more.”
Dallas healthy: Wednesday night represents the first time since Oct.29 that Dallas is fielding a full lineup with no one on injured reserve or listed as injured.
Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said it comes at a good time as their schedule picks up in February.
“Certainly being healthy is what you need going into a heavy month like this,” Gulutzan said. “You’d hate to be all banged up heading into 16 games in 29 days. Health is a factor that contributes to your confidence and your overall group performance. We’re lucky to be healthy coming into it.”
Boudreau on Benn: Boudreau had the line of the day when he talked about seeing Benn with the Texas Stars when they played the Hershey Bears in the 2010 Calder Cup Finals and how much Benn has blossomed.
“I think he’s one of the finest young players in the League that nobody knows about,” Boudreau said. “If this kid was in Toronto, they’d be making statues of him.”
Smith-Pelly skating: Anaheim winger Devante Smith-Pelly skated with the club for the first time since he broke his foot in the World Junior Championship.
Here are the projected lineups:
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Loui Eriksson
Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Toby Petersen - Tom Wandell - Adam Burish
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Philip Larsen - Alex Goligoski
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Niklas Hagman - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Mark Bell - Rod Pelley - George Parros
Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Lubomir Visnovsky - Luca Sbisa
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank