By Dan Wood
|New Duck Lubomir Visnovsky will be part of a revamped Anaheim lineup tonight at Phoenix.
Ducks Radio Analyst
GLENDALE, Ariz. – With the heat on to make further headway in the Stanley Cup playoff race in the NHL’s Western Conference, the Ducks will open a set of back-to-back games tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
With the Ducks set to also face the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday at Honda Center, the coaching staff has been busy trying to put some new pieces in place.
Veteran defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky
and Aaron Ward, acquired Wednesday from the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively, will make their Ducks debuts against the Coyotes.
“There is some inkling they will probably play together,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, who has been toying with various potential even-strength, blue-line combinations.
Visnovsky and team captain Scott Niedermayer, who along with youngster Brett Festerling are the only left-shot defensemen among Anaheim’s seven, are likely to play with different partners at different times, Carlyle said.
The newcomers are also being counted on to provide a special-teams boost, Visnovsky on the top power-play unit, and along with Ward, in a penalty-killing role.
A sore point at times earlier this season, penalty-killing also let the Ducks down in Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to visiting Colorado, with the Avalanche converting on three of six power-play opportunities.
“They’re going to step into it,” Carlyle said. “The penalty-killing has to be better.”
Carlyle also experimented with some potentially different line combinations during today’s morning skate, though nothing is etched in stone. Rookie Matt Beleskey
skated at left wing on the top unit with center Ryan Getzlaf
and right wing Corey Perry
. Recently recalled rookie right wing Dan Sexton
was with center Saku Koivu
and left wing Bobby Ryan
, reuniting a trio that enjoyed some success earlier this season.
Veteran Todd Marchant returned to left wing on a checking-type unit with center Kyle Chipchura and rookie right wing Troy Bodie, leaving right wing Teemu Selanne
on a line with left wing Jason Blake
and center Ryan Carter.
Selanne, who scored his 598th career goal Wednesday, needs two more to become the 18th player in NHL history with 600.
“Moving Selanne (away from Koivu) is a big move,” Carlyle said. “You’re moving a 600-goal scorer.”
The idea is to formulate three lines with considerable scoring potential, but as is always the case, constant adjustments are possible, if not likely.
“I don’t know if I’m prepared to start (tonight’s game) that way,” Carlyle said. “I would say it’s a trial-and-error situation.”