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Ducks Roster Coming Together

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

"Even if you were on the team, I still think you should have to go in and make the team out of camp," Brookbank said. "I'm not taking anything for granted."
Time is ticking down on the preseason and the Ducks opening night roster is slowly starting to take shape.

A group that once numbered 49 in size when training camp opened had been dwindled down to 31 for practice at The Rinks – Anaheim ICE on Tuesday. The latest moves to get the Ducks within eight of the roster limit were reassigning Matt McCue to Manitoba (AHL) and waiving defenseman Steve McCarthy, who has until Wednesday at 9 a.m. to clear.

The toughest decisions remain and with just three preseason games left (the finale is Sunday against the Kings at Honda Center), players on the bubble are faced with just a few more precious opportunities to show they deserve to stay.

“If players come in and perform well, they make those decisions more difficult,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “They are good decisions for the coaching staff and management.”

Of the 31 Ducks, there are 18 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goaltenders. Carlyle indicated that he wants the top 23 from that group, regardless of position. “It will depend on what we’re comfortable with and if there is a huge difference between the performance,” he said. “We want to keep the best players and the guys who have performed to the highest level.”

Sheldon Brookbank is among the players competing for a spot on the blue line. Spending some time with the team last season – playing in 29 regular season and 13 playoff games for Anaheim – gives the 28-year-old no sense of comfort in the coming days.

"There are so many thoughts going through my mind, too many thoughts," Sbisa said. "Just relax, go out there, play your game, come prepared every day - that is all we can do."
“There is a lot of good d around here,” Brookbank said. “Even if you were on the team, I still think you should have to go in and make the team out of camp. I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m just going to keep going until they announce the opening day roster.”

Possibly helping Brookbank in his quest is his ability to also play forward, if need be. When sudden injuries come up, that type of asset can be a valuable luxury, something the Ducks had for a time last year when Steve Montador was with the team. “In New Jersey, I played six or seven games at forward, just on the fourth line,” Brookbank said. “It’s definitely something that I can do if called upon.”

Nine years younger than Brookbank, Luca Sbisa is also hoping to have his name etched onto the team’s lineup card October 3 against San Jose. Acquired (along with Joffrey Lupul and draft picks) in the Chris Pronger trade during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Italian-born defenseman is trying to stay patient while awaiting the final decision.

“I just try to go day-by-day,” Sbisa said. “There are so many thoughts going through my mind, too many thoughts. You’re trying to think what is going through the coach’s mind, but there is no reason to do that. Just relax, go out there, play your game, come prepared every day - that is all we can do. It’s pretty tough.”

"I want to get noticed, show them I'm okay and that I'm itching to get back," Christensen said. "I want to compete for any type of playing time."
For Erik Christensen, the battle for a position is even more complex as he’s also coming back from offseason surgery on his right shoulder. At times, it’s been frustrating for the 25-year-old center. “That was the hard part coming in after surgery,” he said. “Knowing these guys are all getting looks by the coaching staff and because I’m coming off this major shoulder surgery, I’m not skating with them, I’m not playing in the games.

Good news came for Christensen on Tuesday, as he diligently worked through his first full practice. “I tried to do as much as I could,” he said. “I want to get noticed, show them I’m okay and that I’m itching to get back. I want to compete for any type of playing time. That is what you can control.”

Between the pipes, it appears Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2.67 goals-against average in 90 minutes of preseason action) and Jonas Hiller (2.70 GAA in 89 minutes) are still running side by side in their race for the No.1 goaltender’s job. Carlyle indicated the competition might not be determined by which goalie he starts on opening night.

“I think it’s always going to carry on until somebody clearly distinguishes themselves over the other,” Carlyle said. “They are two quality goalies. There is no timeframe. We want them to compete for the position. They’ve been equal.”

Injury Notes
Also taking part in his first full practice on Tuesday was Ryan Getzlaf (sports hernia surgery), Anaheim’s top scorer the past two seasons. Barring any unforeseen changes, it appears that he is making progress and on track to possibly see some preseason action.

“If he has these two days of practice and I would suggest that he was fine today unless something creeps up in the next 24 hours, he’ll practice again tomorrow and we’ll assess whether we’ll play him in Vancouver or not,” said Carlyle of the two-time All-Star.”
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