Emerson Etem is expected to make his season debut after a lower-body injury kept him out the first three games. Etem, a local product from Long Beach, is eager to get going after posting three goals and 10 points in 38 regular-season games in 2012-13 before taking off in the postseason with three goals and five points in seven games.
"I feel like a kid in a candy store again," Etem said. "It just feels so great to be with the guys each and every day in the locker room and sharing the laughs that I missed over the past couple of weeks. They've been doing a great job as a support system and pushing me to get back. That's a huge reason I'm here."
The speedy Etem is expected to help Anaheim's penalty killing unit, which has allowed five goals in three games. Not all players participated in the morning skate, so Anaheim did not do line rushes and coach Bruce Boudreau didn't reveal where Etem would start, although the 21-year-old did play on a line with veterans Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano in training camp.
"A lot is going to be determined with Emerson, as everybody else, as how the game goes," Boudreau said. "If we're going well, I'll keep things the same. But if things aren't going in our direction, then we'll move people around. That's one thing about our team, we've got a lot of interchangeable parts up front."
Boudreau did say that Dustin Penner will start out with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the top line, as was the original plan when Penner returned to Anaheim after signing with the team as a free agent over the summer. Penner was demoted in training camp and scratched for the first game, but is coming off a good performance in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
"He was the guy we signed to be in that position and we feel he's ready now," Boudreau said. "I think he's worked really hard to get where he is, and hopefully he'll play really well tonight."
Here are the expected lineups for Thursday night:
Scratched: Mark Fistric
NOTES: Boudreau said that Beleskey will be out "about a week or so" and that Palmieri could return Sunday against the Ottawa Senators.
Scratched: Justin Falk