Two key pieces to the puzzle are expected to return to the Anaheim lineup tonight.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Jakob Silfverberg took line rushes this morning as the team prepares for the Carolina Hurricanes at Honda Center. Getzlaf skated with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, while Silfverberg returned to his familiar spot on the second line alongside Andrew Cogliano and Adam Henrique. Getzlaf missed the last 19 games with a zygomatic (cheek) bone fracture, while Silfverberg missed the last five with an upper-body injury.
"I'm excited," said Getzlaf. "I have to go out there with some energy. These guys have been grinding the last little while. I've been trying to prepare myself. It's going to be the first game. I don't want to set things too high. I just want to go out and play."
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It is refreshing news for a Ducks team very much within striking range in the Pacific Division despite a rash of injuries that have kept them shorthanded since the season started in early October. Players have stepped up and taken on larger roles and responsibilities in the absences of the team's top dogs, which should serve them well moving forward.
"They've shown a lot of resilience getting points," said Getzlaf. "Also, we can't be satisfied at this point. Now is our time where we have to push hard, especially until our break in January."
Ryan Kesler also took part in the morning skate, though his return date is still in question. Not on the ice were Nick Ritchie (upper body) and Hampus Lindholm (upper body). Ritchie was injured in Friday's game against Minnesota and Lindholm has missed the last three. Joseph Blandisi, who has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, took Ritchie's spot on the third line with Antoine Vermette and Ondrej Kase.
NHL Debut on the Horizon?
Also on the ice this morning was rookie defenseman Andy Welinski, who has yet to appear in an NHL game. Welinski was tied for fifth among AHL defensemen in scoring with 17 points (6g/11a) in 21 games with the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League. He skated today alongside Kevin Bieksa.
"It's definitely exciting," he said. "Calling my parents and waking them out of bed was probably a call they're willing to forgive me for. Just going through the process as it develops."
Welinski was in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend with the Gulls when he received word around 11:30 p.m. that he would be flying to Southern California to join the Ducks. Selected in the third round (83rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft, the 24-year-old Duluth, Minnesota native has compiled 47 points (12g/35a) in 89 career AHL games with San Diego.
If Welinski plays, he will be the seventh player from Anaheim's seven-player 2011 draft class to have played at least one game for the Ducks.
The others include:
- Rickard Rakell (1st round, 30th overall)
- John Gibson (2nd round, 39th overall)
- William Karlsson (2nd round, 53rd overall)
- Joseph Cramarossa (3rd round, 65th overall)
- Max Friberg (5th round, 143rd overall)
- Josh Manson (6th round, 160th overall)
Potential Line Combinations
Video: Getzlaf and Silfverberg return to the lineup