With one final preseason game tomorrow and the regular season opener next Thursday in Dallas, the Ducks hit the ice this afternoon with line combinations that might mirror what we see when the real games begin.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle again kept Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on separate lines, and had rookie Nick Sorensen skating with Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Kesler - a trio that played together in Wednesday's 2-0 victory in San Jose. Sorensen, 21, has spent the past two seasons in the Swedish Hockey League, but is one of three rookie forwards (also Joseph Cramarossa and Michael Sgarbossa) currently vying for a spot on the opening night roster.
Sorensen is the only multi-goal scorer for the Ducks in the preseason, and his overall play and desire to be a difference maker is catching the eye of his teammates.
"He's reliable, he forechecks, and he's on the puck," Cogliano said of Sorensen. "He plays a game you need to play to be successful in the NHL. That's a positive sign. You need guys who are willing to be on the puck, want to compete, and want to make a difference. He's done that. He's been a nice surprise. I've seen first-hand how good he's done."
Carlyle says Sorensen has earned his opportunity to remain with the club up to this point.
"You put him out there, and you can trust him," said Carlyle. "We were starving for offense, and he was one of the guys that was able to deliver some. With that type of play, and playing with Kesler and Cogs, we feel he's a fit there right now. I'm not saying he's going to start there, but those are the line combinations we're trying. Exhibition games are the times when you try these things. The kid has played hard, and he deserves an opportunity."
Highly-touted defenseman Jacob Larsson is still here, having earned his spot among the final eight d-men currently with the big club. Today, the 19-year-old skated alongside Sami Vatanen during line rushes.
Cam Fowler returned to practice today after staying off the ice yesterday due to illness. The 24-year-old says he's feeling better, and looking forward to finishing off training camp and preseason action tomorrow night.
"Training camp has a way of grinding on you as a player," said Fowler. "As important as it is, it's a lot of hard work and a lot of skating. You always look forward to the start of the regular season. It's always an exciting time. We've put a lot of hard work in, so we'd like to see it pay off for us at the beginning of the season."