After traveling back from Nashville yesterday morning and attending an '80s-themed charity event later in the evening, the Ducks laced up their skates and got back to work earlier today inside Honda Center. Anaheim is about to begin the first of two season-long five-game homestands tomorrow night against the Edmonton Oilers, and this stretch includes 16 consecutive days spent in Southern California.
Among the players on the ice, of course, was Hampus Lindholm, who stepped foot onto Orange County soil yesterday for the first time since last summer. The 22-year-old joined the team in Columbus on November 7 and has gone on to appear in three games with each one seeing an increase in ice time: 18:33 (at Columbus), 19:01 (at Carolina) and 21:19 (at Nashville).
His practice time with Rogle BK during his time in Sweden appeared to pay dividends. Lindholm looked like the poised and confident blueliner we've all become familiar with despite playing three games in four nights.
"I'm working hard and feel like I'm in good shape," Lindholm said today. "I feel good. It's nice to get the tempo of the game now. I'm getting better with each game."
Those are encouraging words for Ducks fans, who will get their first glimpse of No. 47 in person tomorrow night against the Oilers, who, by the way, lead the Pacific Division and rank second in the Western Conference with a 9-6-1 record (19 pts.).
"It's always fun to play at home," Lindholm said. "It's nice to be here. It feels like home. I feel comfortable playing here. It's going to be exciting because Edmonton is a good team. This is going to be a big challenge for us, so it'll be fun to see our guys step up."
More on the Oilers
It's been a while since the Oilers were mentioned in the same breath as the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and pretty much any of the clubs that routinely sit atop the league standings. But a blazing start has Edmonton atop the Pacific, though the club has come back to earth over the past 10 games, having lost three in a row and only winning four of those contests (4-5-1). Nevertheless, the talent they have up front is undeniable. At the forefront is none other than Connor McDavid - the 19-year-old wunderkind who currently leads the NHL in assists (14) and ranks third in points as a second-year pro.
"You have to take away his speed as much as you can," said Andrew Cogliano. "You need to know where he is on the ice. Simple as that. He's going to have opportunities. He's going to be good. It's just a matter of how close you check him."
The Ducks are well aware of Edmonton's improvements. "They just have a balanced attack," said Cogliano. "They're playing much better this year. All in all, they're a much-improved team and we'll treat them like one of the top teams in the league because they are right now."
Forward Line Combinations
Video: Hampus Lindholm discusses his return to the Ducks