Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin
appears ready to rejoin the Ducks lineup for tonight's game with the Dallas Stars at Honda Center. The 28-year-old defenseman hasn't played since a Nov. 14 game against the Nashville Predators, in which he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and underwent major knee surgery days later.
“Obviously, it’s been a while,” Beauchemin said after skating with the team Friday morning. “I’m pretty excited to come back. Everybody knows by winning this game tonight, we clinch a playoff spot, so that makes it more exciting.”
The Ducks qualify for the postseason with a win tonight against the Stars, and Beauchemin's contribution would be a major boost for the Ducks in the playoffs.
“It’s a huge bonus when you have a veteran player that has played with your group for a number of years and logged huge minutes come back into your lineup,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “He’s pretty much ready to go from a standpoint of his emotions. You can see he’s wired up.”
Beauchemin, who was originally supposed to miss six months of action, has repeatedly tested the strength of the knee in practices the last couple of weeks. “So far, I haven’t had any setbacks," he said this morning. "I had a big test on Tuesday with a two-hour practice, and Wednesday and yesterday went the way I wanted.”
Should Beauchemin be in the lineup tonight, he is not likely to log the same kind of time on ice that had him second on the team with an average 25:35 minutes per game when the injury occurred.
“I think I’ll probably play on the third (defensive) pair, maybe 10, 15 minutes,” Beauchemin said. “We still don’t know how it’s going to react to a game. Everything should be fine. It’s just a matter of coming back slowly, and we don’t want to rush anything."
And Carlyle plans to keep an eye on Beauchemin's minutes. "I don’t want him out there playing 25 minutes tonight, that’s for sure,” Carlyle said. “There’s a lot on the line, so it’s Catch-22 a little bit. You don’t want to expose him to too much, but on the other hand, if he can handle it, you might give him a little bit more as the game goes on."