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Pregame: Kase Likely to Make NHL Debut Tonight

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The morning after the Ducks skated to a pleasing 4-0 victory over the LA Kings last night at STAPLES Center, a handful of players took the ice for an optional practice at Honda Center. The season is less than a month old and already the Ducks are closing out their third set of back-to-backs. No rest for the Ducks, who fortunately are in the midst of 13 consecutive days in Southern California.

Unfortunately, it appears they'll be without the services of Nick Ritchie, who left the game last night after taking a hit along the glass from Kings defenseman Tom Gilbert. "He's under assessment," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "It's into the doctors' hands at this point."

The Ducks have since recalled left wing Ondrej Kase and center Michael Sgarbossa from the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League. Both skaters were on the ice this morning.

Speaking of Kase, there's a good chance the 20-year-old makes his NHL debut tonight. Selected in the seventh round (205th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Kase has recorded 18 points (10g/8a) in 31 career AHL games with the San Diego Gulls dating back to last season. Kase collected four points (2g/2a) in six games with the Gulls this season.

"I'm not afraid to put a young player in a situation where I think his strengths are," said Carlyle. "When you describe Kase, he's played very well in San Diego. He's an offensive player, so why would I put him on the fourth line?"

Regarding his draft selection, only five players were picked after him. That's not a knock on him as a player by any means. There happens to be a guy on the San Jose Sharks who was also drafted 205th overall. His name? Joe Pavelski.

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier says he's good to go, but it appears he'll be the backup tonight behind John Gibson. Bernier suffered an upper-body injury in the first period of the October 25 game in San Jose. Dustin Tokarski, who served as Gibson's backup goaltender since Bernier went down with the injury, has since been reassigned to San Diego.

As for the defending Stanley Cup champions, they'll get a big boost tonight with the return of defenseman Kris Letang. The 29-year-old hasn't played since October 18 when he suffered an upper-body injury against the Montreal Canadiens.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan also confirmed Matt Murray as their starting goaltender. Murray broke his hand on September 19 in the World Cup of Hockey tournament and missed the first six games of the season before backing up Marc-Andre Fleury on October 25 vs. Florida. Murray became the fourth rookie goaltender to lead his team to a Stanley Cup championship, and is just the third goaltender in the NHL Expansion Era to reach double digits in playoff wins before regular-season wins.

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