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Ducks Going with Youth in Dallas

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Dan Wood

Ducks Radio Analyst

DALLAS – A chance to see some younger players is in store for the Ducks when they open the season’s final road trip with a game against the Dallas Stars tonight at the American Airlines Center.

Winger Dan Sexton, a scoring sensation earlier this season, and center Ryan Carter figure to play for the first time in six games, while defenseman Brett Festerling stands to be in the lineup for just the second time in five games.

Defenseman Nathan Oystrick, acquired in a March 1 trade with the Atlanta Thrashers, is in line for just his second appearance with the Ducks. Erstwhile defenseman Brendan Mikkelson, recalled Wednesday from the Toronto Marlies of the American League, appears set to see duty at left wing.

“With the youth we have around us, it gives us an opportunity to look at some of our future players, potentially,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said following today’s morning skate. “Just see where they are as far as their level of play and their execution at the NHL level.”

The Ducks, eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff contention Tuesday night when the Colorado Avalanche posted a 4-3, shootout victory at Vancouver, chose not to bring veteran defenseman Scott Niedermayer, right wing Teemu Selanne and centers Saku Koivu and Todd Marchant on this trip, which concludes with a Friday night game at St. Louis.

“I would say it’s probable those players will be in the lineup Sunday,” Carlyle said, referring to the regular-season finale against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center.

The Ducks are also without defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who suffered a broken hand during the third period of Tuesday’s 5-4, shootout loss to the Kings at Staples Center, and center Ryan Getzlaf, who remains sidelined because of a recurring sprained ankle.

All of the younger players have received uncomplicated instructions.

“The most important thing is for them to go out and play mistake-free – play the game as simply as possible until you get your feet underneath you,” Carlyle said.

While Mikkelson has little experience up front, the Ducks want to do some experimentation.

“We think with his skating ability, it might be an option at some point to have him play forward,” Carlyle said.

Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, who has missed the past six games because of back spasms, is an option for tonight and Friday night, Carlyle said.

Tonight’s contest marks the final home game of the season for the Stars, who are also out of the playoffs, and it could be the final Dallas appearance for three of the team’s long-time stalwarts – center Mike Modano, winger Jere Lehtinen and goalie Marty Turco.

Modano, the face of the franchise since the team was in Minnesota and known as the North Stars, and Lehtinen are possibilities to retire. Turco is an impending unrestricted free agent and does not appear to be in the Stars’ future plans.

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