By Kyle Shohara
Perhaps in an attempt to reinvigorate one of the club’s regulars, the Ducks will have a new look on the blueline as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena.
The morning skate revealed that Cam Fowler, who up to this point has played in all but one game this season, is likely to be a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career. Fowler made his debut on Oct. 8, 2010 at Detroit. After the skate, Fowler told reporters he feels his game has slipped of late, and wants – and needs – to be better as the playoffs draw near. Fowler was minus-3 in the Ducks’ 7-2 loss against the Rangers on Sunday, and has just two points (1g/1a) in his past six games.
Simon Despres, who was scratched in Sunday’s game, will return to the lineup, and John Gibson is expected to get the start in net. Gibson came on in relief of Frederik Andersen midway through the first period of Sunday’s loss at Madison Square Garden.
Several Ducks have had bounce back games following a seat in the press box, most notably Patrick Maroon and Jiri Sekac. Maroon was scratched for the first time this season in the game on March 13 at Minnesota, and the big man responded with a dominating two-assist effort in the game that followed – a 4-2 victory vs. Nashville. Maroon had a goal and two assists in the 19 contests leading up to the Minnesota game. Maroon has three points (1g/2a) and a plus-2 rating in the four games since being scratched. Jiri Sekac was scratched for the first time as a Duck in the March 18 game vs. Los Angeles. The 22-year-old, acquired from Montreal in late February for Devante Smith-Pelly, had gone pointless in the five games leading up to the tilt vs. Los Angeles, but followed it up with his first multi-point effort (1g/1a) as a Duck in Friday’s overtime victory vs. Colorado. The goal was his first in an Anaheim sweater.
WIZ, WILD BILL FACE FORMER TEAMS
Centerpieces of one of the bigger trades of the recent trade deadline will face their former teams tonight. Longtime Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski is back in Columbus, a place he called home for the better part of four seasons (2011-15). Wisniewski’s rights were acquired by Columbus on June 29, 2011 from Montreal in exchange for a conditional 2012 seventh-round draft pick that became a fifth-rounder because he and the Blue Jackets agreed to a contract. Wisniewski earned 25 goals, 121 points and 147 penalty minutes in 208 games with the Blue Jackets.
William “Wild Bill” Karlsson made his NHL debut on Oct. 11 at Detroit and scored his first two career NHL goals to help the Ducks to a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres two days later. The soft-spoken 22-year-old then scored the game-deciding goal in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Ducks a 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers the following night. In all, Karlsson appeared in 18 games with the Ducks, recording three points (2g/1a) and a plus-1 rating. Karlsson also tallied 24 points (8g/16a) in 37 games with Norfolk (AHL), but has gone scoreless in eight games with the Springfield Falcons since the trade.
Karlsson was recalled on an emergency basis last night and arrived in Columbus earlier this morning. He will likely center the Blue Jackets’ third line with left wing Scott Hartnell and right wing Marko Dano.
After the morning skate, Karlsson said it took some time to accept the fact that was he was traded, but all is good now. “After a couple of weeks, everything is fine and I’m happy to be a Blue Jacket,” he said. “It’s mixed feelings…a lot of butterflies, too. I want to show that I can play here. It’s fun that it’s against Anaheim. I’m happy to be called up. Playing against my former team is going to be fun. I didn’t think I was going to get traded, but I kind of knew too, since it was the trade deadline that anything can happen.”
Karlsson will wear No. 20 for the Blue Jackets.EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Rene Bourque, also included in the trade that brought Wisniewski back to Anaheim, is out of the lineup with an upper-body injury.
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Kyle Palmieri
Andrew Cogliano-Nate Thompson-Jakob Silfverberg
Tomas Fleischmann-Rickard Rakell-Jiri Sekac
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Simon Despres-James Wisniewski
Clayton Stoner-Sami VatanenCOLUMBUS
Boone Jenner-Ryan Johansen-Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno-Artem Anisimov-Jeremy Morin
Scott Hartnell-William Karlsson-Marko Dano
Corey Tropp-Mark Letestu-Jared Boll
Jack Johnson-David Savard
Fedor Tyutin-Dalton Prout
Kevin Connauton-Cody Goloubef