In his 2008-09 debut against the Coyotes, Ryan Carter scored a goal and had a plus-two rating in just over 10 minutes of time on the ice.
A healthy scratch in the Ducks’ season opener at San Jose, Ryan Carter wanted to make a strong impression in his 2008-09 debut against Phoenix on Sunday.
With a goal and a plus-two rating in just over 10 minutes of time on the ice, the 25-year-old succeeded as a bright spot for the Ducks in an otherwise disappointing 4-2 loss to the Coyotes in their home opener.
“I think Ryan Carter played with more desperation and was involved in the play much more than what we saw throughout training camp,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “Not just in the goal that he scored, but I thought he was on the puck and was physical. That is the type of hockey that he has to play.”
As injuries to Rob Niedermayer (bruised foot) and Travis Moen (stiff back) kept them out of practice on Monday and day-to-day in their returns to the lineup, it looks like Carter may get an even bigger chance to showcase his abilities beginning on Tuesday at Los Angeles.
The St. Paul, Minnesota-native skated on the team’s top forward line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry at practice. Carlyle indicated playing Carter, primarily a center during his 35 career NHL games, at left wing alongside the former All-Stars is a wrinkle he is considering for the Ducks’ offense.
“Is there a bigger opportunity for a young player coming into the league and trying to make his mark than to get to play with Getzlaf and Perry?” Carlyle said. “Hopefully he takes advantage of it. “
Carter realizes the immense opportunity that could be had, but his concentration will remain on doing the little things for the Ducks.
"His biggest assest is his ability to skate and use his body," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said of Carter. "He can shoot the puck and has a big-time wrist shot."
“With a chance to play with those guys, who are obviously good players, things can happen,” Carter said. “I have to focus on moving my feet, playing physical and getting in on the forecheck. Through that hopefully comes a little offense.”
When injuries besieged the team’s lineup during a stretch last season, Carter was given a similar break and rose to the occasion. Seeing time on the second and third forward lines, Carter chipped in with the first four goals of his career during a five-game stretch from Feb. 8-17. Only a freak wrist injury against Colorado on Feb. 20 derailed his hot streak.
“We had (Samuel) Pahlsson and (Doug) Weight down and he came in and made a contribution,” said Carlyle of Carter, who returned for the final regular season game of 2007-08 and the playoffs. “He was our surprise.”
Based on the development Carter had displayed, the Ducks quickly inked the would-be free agent to a three-year contract on April 29.
“His biggest asset is his ability to skate and use his body,” Carlyle said. “He can shoot the puck and has a big-time wrist shot. He surprises a lot of goaltenders with the velocity and quickness of it.”
Sat by Carlyle in the 2008-09 season opener, Carter understands that he must play to his strengths in order to stay on the ice and off the head coach’s scratch list.
“Moving my feet and playing physical is what I have to do to have success,” Carter said. “If I’m having a bad night, it’s usually because I’m standing still. That transcends into not playing physical because I’m a step behind and not catching up to guys. They kind of work hand in hand. In order for me to play well, I need to do both those things.”
Notes: If both Niedermayer and Moen are unable to play against the Kings, there is a chance Carlyle would have to call on one of his defensemen to step in as a forward. The Ducks head coach indicated that Steve Montador would be the most likely candidate, having played both roles with Florida last season while Ken Klee is also a possibility.
After being granted a U.S. work visa late last week, defenseman Nathan McIver was finally able to join the team in Anaheim over the weekend. In a whirlwind since being claimed by the Ducks from Vancouver on Oct. 4, McIver is happy everything has finally started to settle down.
“It was an emotional, up-and-down few days,” said McIver, who scored the game-winner in the Ducks’ preseason finale against his former team on Oct. 5. “It was really tough. I was with the team for one day in Vancouver, then they left and I wasn’t able to travel. You’re with a new team and you want get to know everyone. I was sitting in Vancouver for a week waiting and watching them in their game against San Jose. I’m really excited to be here now.”