By Dan Wood
Ducks Radio Analyst
ATLANTA – The Ducks could be in for a significant lineup boost Tuesday night, when they take on the Atlanta Thrashers.
Veteran center Saku Koivu
, who has missed the past four games because of a sprained right knee suffered Jan. 14, practiced with his teammates Monday at Philips Arena after having traveled from Orange County to Atlanta the day before.
“I’m feeling all right,” Koivu said. “Coming back from an injury, I’m trying to do more and push it now. When you get back to a team practice, you know you’re fairly close.”
Koivu, who skated alongside regular linemates Bobby Ryan
and Dan Sexton
, said an evaluation will be done after another on-ice session Tuesday morning, but Coach Randy Carlyle indicated that Koivu is likely to play against the Thrashers.
“We brought him here – he’s not on vacation,” Carlyle said. “He looked fine today. We think he can come in and have a positive effect, or we wouldn’t put him in. If he gives us the green light, he’ll step right back in where he was.”
Koivu, who missed five games in November because of a strained groin muscle, has 10 goals and 29 points in 43 games this season. He also owns a plus-9 mark, second on the team to defenseman Sheldon Brookbank
’s plus-10 figure.
After having skated four days on his own before rejoining the team, Koivu just wants to make sure everything is right before returning to game action.
“I’m very confident for this week,” he said. “If there is no setback and I’m feeling great, let’s push for tomorrow.”
Right wing Teemu Selanne
, meanwhile, was scheduled to see Dr. Jeffrey Pulver, the Ducks’ oral surgeon, on Monday and, hopefully, have bands removed from his jaw. Selanne has missed the past five games because of a broken jaw suffered Jan. 13.
“If the healing has progressed enough, the first step would be to get back on the ice,” Carlyle said.
Selanne, who had been back for only three games after having missed 17 because of a broken bone in his left hand suffered Dec. 3, has 16 goals and 23 points in 30 games this season.
It is possible Selanne could rejoin the Ducks at some point during the team’s six-game road trip that continues Wednesday in Washington, Friday at Tampa Bay and a week from tonight at Florida.
The Ducks, 24-21-7, have gone 3-2 since losing Selanne and 3-1 since Koivu went down, climbing into 10th place in the NHL’s Western Conference, just three points out of the eighth and final Stanley Cup playoff position.