Refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to begin the stretch run, the Ducks reconvened at Honda Center for an early-evening practice after coming off their bye week - the latest mandated break of any team in the NHL.
The Ducks won't be eased back into game action either. Tomorrow's home matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs begins a seven-day stretch that has the club playing five times, including a daunting back-to-back in Chicago and St. Louis on March 9 and 10, respectively.
"You're playing a lot of hockey right away," said head coach Randy Carlyle. "That's what the schedule has decided and those are the challenges that come with it. We have a healthy group of bodies here other than Gibby [John Gibson]."
Anaheim's 23-year-old goaltender did not practice with the team this evening, still recovering from a lower-body injury that forced him to miss the last two games leading up to the bye week. Gibson's most recent appearance came on February 20 in Arizona, when he relieved Jonathan Bernier for the second and third periods. Carlyle said he'll leave it up to Gibson to decide when he's ready to return to the lineup. For now, the Ducks are going with Bernier and Jhonas Enroth in goal.
Forward line combinations today were similar to what we saw in the game against the LA Kings last Saturday. Recent acquisition Patrick Eaves skated on left wing alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase, while the shutdown line composed of Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg remained intact. Nick Ritchie flanked Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry on the third line, while the fourth line was a mix of Logan Shaw, recent call-up Chris Wagner, Nate Thompson, Jared Boll and Antoine Vermette (suspended).
Also on the ice was rookie defenseman Brandon Montour, recalled earlier today from the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League.
"We're ready to go tomorrow," said Josh Manson. "Guys looked fresh. We're excited to get back to Honda Center to play a game. When you've been off the ice for that long, you get the itch to come back. We're excited to go tomorrow."
Marchant to 'moonlight' as assistant coach
Todd Marchant, the club's current Director of Player Development, will serve as an assistant coach for the remainder of the season, providing the team with another outlet of experience and knowledge gained over the course of his 18-year NHL career. In his current role as Director of Player Development, Marchant prepares and educates Anaheim prospects on succeeding in professional hockey. He's worked closely with young players like Rakell, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen since taking on his current role in 2011.
"We have 19 games left, so adding him to this mix would be a positive," said Carlyle. "He's had a lot of time with 90 percent of the players here. He's played with Getzlaf and Perry. He can continue to bridge the communication. He knows the players at an intimate level because he's had a lot of contact with them."
Marchant was on the ice with the coaching staff this evening and will likely do so for both home and road games the rest of the way.
Video: Ducks return from the bye week for practice