Ducks Radio Analyst
RALEIGH, N.C. – With Joffrey Lupul well on the way to rediscovering his game after a nearly year-long absence from the NHL, and Teemu Selanne
expected back in the lineup Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Ducks might finally have the makings of the three scoring lines Coach Randy Carlyle has envisioned since training camp.
Lupul has already provided a spark, putting up three points, including two goals, in the past two games, and three goals in seven games since returning from dual back surgery and a career-threatening blood infection.
Selanne, meanwhile, has two goals and four assists in the past four games he has played, but has missed the past four, and nine of the past 13, because of a groin strain.
“When you start to get everybody back, it starts to push you to believe that you could create more offense throughout the rest of your lineup,” Carlyle said after Friday’s early afternoon skate at the Hurricanes’ practice facility.
Selanne, who pushed himself for a third consecutive day, emerged encouraged.
“It looks good,” Selanne said. “I think I’m ready to play. I’m pretty much a hundred percent – no pain. I think the next step is to start playing, and I really, really hope it’s strong enough.”
Selanne missed three games from Nov. 21-27, returned for two, missed two more Dec. 3-5, played the next two and has since sat out the past four.
“I took three more extra days right now,” Selanne said. “Last time, I think I was back after five days. Now, tomorrow is 10, so I hope that’s going to be a big difference. I’m pretty excited.”
“The biggest thing is when I came back last time, twice when I came back, I only had a morning practice, after like six, seven days of no skating. So I didn’t really activate the muscle, get the muscles used to skating again. Both times, it happened in the end of the game, so it must just have been fatigue because I hadn’t skated enough.
“And the second time, starting with back-to-back (games), I think that was too much. That’s why I’ve been skating a lot and done so many exercises, tried to make everything stronger. That’s why I really hope it’s going to be good now.”
Despite being 40 and having played in only 26 of the team’s 35 games, Selanne ranks third among Ducks scorers with 28 points. He is also tied for fourth with 10 goals, so there is no question about his productivity when healthy.
The same can be said for Lupul, who converted on the power play in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory at Washington and again Thursday in a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders. Lupul has also led the Ducks in shots on goal in both games, with a combined 11.
“Lupes has been able to come back into the lineup and he’s scoring goals. We desperately need more goals from other people in our lineup other than our top two lines,” Carlyle said.
Most recently, Lupul has skated in Selanne’s usual spot on the second line, alongside center Saku Koivu
and left wing Jason Blake
. Upon Selanne’s return, Lupul would likely move to a unit with some combination of youngsters Nick Bonino
, Brandon McMillan
and Dan Sexton
“Just putting Selanne and myself back in definitely gives us an element of a little more depth, as far as scoring goes, and experience and things like that,” Lupul said. “Honestly, I’m one of those guys, it doesn’t matter to me who I play with. I just like to get on a line, get in a rhythm.
“Right now I’m really happy with where I’m at and feel I can continue to get better every game.”