The final dress rehearsal is in the books. Today, on the eve of the big dance, the Ducks went through a rigorous practice as they ready themselves for Game 1 of the Second Round against the Edmonton Oilers.
Defensemen Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen were all participants in practice today. Without explicitly saying they're in for the series opener, Fowler and Lindholm appear ready. Fowler, injured on April 4, looks like his old self and was paired primarily with standout rookie Brandon Montour, who has taken the baton and ran. Lindholm, meanwhile, took rushes with Josh Manson - his usual d-partner throughout the regular season. Vatanen took rushes with Clayton Stoner and might be the least likely to play tomorrow among the three.
Fowler says he has "no restrictions" when it comes to skating, specifically pivoting, turning and escaping from pressure. Although Fowler says it's still not entirely up to him to decide if he can play just yet (he still needs approval from team doctors), it's safe to say his return is imminent. "I feel strong," he said. "I've put myself through all sorts of game situations the best you can do without actually playing. If there were even any questions with anything like that, I wouldn't be where I am right now."
Lindholm also offered up encouraging words following practice today. "I felt good out there," he said, still in full gear after stepping off the ice. "I've been skating for two days before everyone else. It was nice to be out there with the guys again. It was good to have a couple of days to rest."
For what it's worth, the forward line groupings remained unchanged from what we saw in Games 3 and 4 against the Calgary Flames. Jared Boll appeared to be the extra forward taking ruses on the fourth line with Chris Wagner, Antoine Vermette and Logan Shaw. As for the defense, rookie Shea Theodore took rushes alongside veteran Kevin Bieksa.
The Oilers aren't yet in the building, having held practice earlier today at Rogers Place in Edmonton before departing for Southern California. Defenseman Oscar Klefbom says he expects to be ready to play tomorrow night after battling illness in the series-clinching Game 6 victory at San Jose.
"We've played each other hard all year," captain Connor McDavid said on EdmontonOilers.com. "We had a little bit of success and also had some games where we weren't very good against them as well. It should be an interesting series. It's about trying to figure out the matchups and all that. They're a good defensive team and they've been that way for a lot of years."
Practice Line Combinations
Video: Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm talk injuries