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Lupul, Sexton Part of Ever-Shifting Ducks Lineup

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com


“It’s tough to play with new guys every night, Lupul says, "But I’m starting to get the feeling that is just how it’s going to be. You try to develop what chemistry you can.”
Two forwards most affected by the Ducks’ ever-changing lineup are Joffrey Lupul and Dan Sexton, who were linemates alongside Saku Koivu during Thursday’s practice at Honda Center.

Both have played on each wing and rotated around forward lines multiple times, as the team has done its best to deal with injuries, trades and other transactions. The constant adjusting has made chemistry hard to come by at times, but the players have aimed to get comfortable on the fly.

“I’m just trying to do what I can,” said Lupul, who has totaled seven points in 15 games since returning from a year-long absence from a back injury. “It’s tough to play with new guys every night. But I’m starting to get the feeling that is just how it’s going to be. You try to develop what chemistry you can.”

For Sexton, that juggling has included four trips back and forth from AHL Syracuse since November 10. The latest of those moves came when he was recalled Tuesday after Jason Blake’s shoulder injury on Sunday against Chicago. Sexton was in the lineup last night and assisted on Anaheim’s lone goal, scored by Koivu in the third period.
 
“I’ve played with at least 8 or 9 linemates here,” Sexton said. “That is fine with me because we have tons of good players here. It’s always fun to get a new look with guys. You just have to worry about yourself first and foremost.

“Hopefully your linemates understand the way you play and you understand the way they play. For the most part, guys are good enough here where you can play your game and they will adjust to you.”

The constant traveling between the Ducks and Crunch over the last two months is not something the easy-going Sexton lets affect him. Rather than viewing his season in two separate parts between the NHL and AHL, the 23-year-old likes to view it as a whole and feels it has gone fairly well in that regard. In 32 total games this season between the Ducks and Crunch, Sexton has tallied nine goals and 20 points (two goals, five points with Anaheim).

“No one expects to have this sort of year,” Sexton said. “When you have gone up, down, up, down, people can look at it as inconsistency or something negative. Realistically, it’s a matter of roster spots or where they see me fitting in. I’m just happy to be here whenever I am. I try to work as hard as I can and appreciate every day I am here.”
“No one expects to have this sort of year,” Sexton said. “When you have gone up, down, up, down, people can look at it as inconsistency or something negative. Realistically, it’s a matter of roster spots or where they see me fitting in. I’m just happy to be here whenever I am. I try to work as hard as I can and appreciate every day I am here.”

Trying to find the right mix of players is constantly on the minds of Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle and his assistants. “It’s our decisions as a coaching staff on what we think are the right combinations,” he said. “Don’t worry, we talk about it a lot. It definitely gets its daily amount of attention paid to it.”

Whatever look the Ducks to decide to go with tomorrow night against the Blue Jackets at Honda Center, scoring first will be key. Anaheim is ninth in the league with a .773 winning percentage when getting the game’s first goal. When they surrender the first tally, they are 24th in the league in coming back to win, which thought fought valiantly to do last night against Nashville before losing 4-1.

“Last night, we had some chances and got some pucks to the net that just didn’t go in,” Lupul said. “When you get behind by especially two or three, it really makes it a lot more difficult. You have to make all your chances count at that point, especially power plays. Those are big opportunities when you are down by a couple of guys to chip away with one.”

Injury Notes

Jason Blake (shoulder) returned to the ice for practice on Thursday and his status for tomorrow night’s game will be determined if he can partake in the morning skate. “As we indicated earlier in the week, Blake’s injury wasn’t as severe as we first thought,” Carlyle said. “Every day he skates, he is closer to playing.”

Aaron Voros (fractured orbital bone) also participated in his first full practice since being injured on Dec. 8 against the Canucks. But Carlyle said, the gritty forward is still a couple weeks away from returning to the lineup.
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