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Four Key Players Join Ducks in Practice

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks returned to work today with four key players back in familiar colors. John Gibson, Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg and Sami Vatanen took part in their first full practice with the team since returning to Orange County after competing in the World Cup of Hockey tournament, which ended last night in Team Canada's championship-clinching 2-1 victory over Team Europe. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were among those who celebrated on the ice at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, and both figure to re-join the team in the coming days.

The famed shutdown line composed of Silfverberg, Kesler and Andrew Cogliano was reunited in today's practice, which featured a heavy dose of NHL regulars.

The trio was instrumental in Anaheim's second-half surge last season, and today Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said it gives his club a basis moving forward.

"They deserve one another," Carlyle said. "They were a pretty good line for the hockey club in my view, but I don't think anything is etched in stone because we're missing some key personnel. When it all shakes out, it gives us a starting point with that group."

Carlyle says he's a believer in twos when it comes to his forwards, which allows him to swap out a third player when the team - or specific line - needs a spark.

"If it's Getzlaf and Perry, Getzlaf and Rakell, Rakell and Perry, Kesler and Silfverberg or Kesler and Cogliano, wherever that gets to, we can interchange the third person on that line when we need that shakeup."

Even though he's fresh off a World Cup tournament, Silfverberg was noticeably feeling the effects of the conditioning Carlyle has put his team through thus far. After the skate, Carlyle jokingly told Silfverberg he wasn't as bad as another recent tournament participant.

"[Silfverberg] was pretty red-faced, so I just told him Sami was redder than he was, and that the Finns weren't in as good of a shape as the Swedes," Carlyle said with a laugh. "I just tried to have that banter in the relationship, and have him understand there's a side of humanity to the coach. It's not all push, push, push. We're looking for more from him. We think he can score more."

Team USA's underwhelming performance in the World Cup allowed Kesler to return home earlier than anyone probably expected. The 32-year-old will once again be relied upon during the most critical of moments, and he's already had three practices to get reacquainted with Carlyle, his former Manitoba Moose coach from years ago.

Is his own words, being here in camp, with his teammates, "is where I belong."

With his prowess in the faceoff dot and his ability to stifle the opposition's top center, Kesler will undoubtedly be one of Carlyle's go-to-players in all situations this season.

Carlyle says 2016 first-round draft pick Max Jones is day-to-day with a bruised shoulder. The 18-year-old made his preseason debut on Tuesday night against the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center, and finished with one shot on goal in 9:07 TOI.

Jones was selected 24th overall in the June draft, and recorded a goal in the second of two Rookie Showcase games held in Westminster, Colorado.

Garbutt-Sgarbossa-D. Jones


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