By Kyle Shohara
After four months of rehab and countless hours of practice time, Stephane Robidas returns to game action tonight against the Washington Capitals at Honda Center. Tonight will mark his Ducks debut after being acquired from the Dallas Stars exactly two weeks ago.
The 37-year-old veteran hasn’t played since a leg injury on November 29, in which he broke his tibia and fibula. Rods and screws were needed to repair the break.
The easy-going native of Sherbrooke, Quebec skated alongside Bryan Allen this morning, and says he’s feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness.
“I feel great,” he said. “I’m a little nervous, but excited at the same time. I need to keep everything simple. It’s a new team for me, and it’s the first time [playing] in a while.”
Now in his 13th NHL season, Robidas has earned 246 points (55g/191a) with a +5 rating and 671 penalty minutes in 871 career NHL games with Montreal, Dallas and Chicago. A 2009 NHL All-Star, Robidas set career highs in goals (10), assists (31), points (41) while appearing in all 82 games for the second time in his career in 2009-10. Robidas also brings plenty of postseason experience, appearing in 44 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, earning 15 points (3g/12a) with 42 penalty minutes.
“There are a lot of things going on for me tonight, but I’m very excited,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
His minutes will be monitored tonight, but head coach Bruce Boudreau says it’s ultimately up to Robidas to gauge how much he plays.
“We’ll see how he goes,” Boudreau said. “His play is going to indicate how much he plays the first game. We don’t want to kill him, but he seems to be in pretty good shape. If he’s ready to play, we’d like him to be a regular.”
Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler underwent an MRI earlier today for a lower-body injury sustained during Friday’s game at Pepsi Center. Fowler was hit along the boards by Avalanche forward Patrick Bordeleau, forcing him out of the game. Fowler had played in every game of the season up to that point, but will miss his second consecutive contest tonight.
Boudreau says he’ll know more about the severity of the injury later today, but remarked that Fowler is “feeling better every day.”
It was also two weeks ago when the Ducks traded forward Dustin Penner to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a fourth-round pick; the pick used to acquire Robidas from the Stars.
It’s been a tough go for Penner, who only has one point (assist) in seven games with the Capitals.
With that being said, the trade allowed other players, like Teemu Selanne, Patrick Maroon and Jakob Silfverberg, to fill his spot on the left wing alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
“When we moved [Penner], it was an opportunity for other guys,” said Getzlaf. “Other guys had to step up in those roles. It’s been an opportunity for other guys to step up and play some more minutes, play those roles. That’s what it was all about.”
Three former Capitals will be facing their old team for the second time this season.
Boudreau served as head coach of the Caps for four seasons (2007-11). During that time, he won the 2007-08 Jack Adams award and led the team to the 2009-10 Presidents’ Trophy. He compiled a 201-88-40 record (.672) and won the Southeast Division four times.
“I’m interested in the game,” said Boudreau, with a laugh. “I know a lot of the players there, so it was fun seeing them in Washington. Hopefully, it’s the same feeling tonight.”
Ducks assistant coach Bob Woods spent parts of three seasons (2009-11) alongside Boudreau as an assistant coach for the Capitals. Prior to his time in D.C., Woods was the head coach of the Hershey Bears (2007-09), Washington’s affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Ducks center Mathieu Perreault was also a former member of the Capitals. Selected by Washington in the sixth round (177th overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft, Perreault made his NHL debut in 2009-10 under Boudreau. Perreault was acquired from the Caps on September 29 for left wing John Mitchell and a fourth-round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft.
“It’s always special to play against them,” said Perreault. “It probably always will be. But, at the end of the day, it’s another game we have to win.”
Anaheim and Washington conclude a two-game season series tonight at Honda Center. The Ducks earned a 3-2 win in their initial meeting on December 23 at Verizon Center as Hampus Lindholm (1g/1a), Andrew Cogliano (1g/1a) and Saku Koivu (1g/1a) each recorded multi-point games. All-time, Anaheim owns a 14-9-3 record vs. Washington. Teemu Selanne leads the team with 39 career points (21g/18a) in 24 games against the Capitals.