By Kyle Shohara
Practice this afternoon had a different feel to it, mostly due to the 16,000 elementary school students who came to Honda Center for the annual First Flight Field Trip. Prior to showcasing their talents in front of the jubilant onlookers, the Ducks managed to squeeze in a quick workout as they prepare for tomorrow’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
First Flight Recap
Absent from practice were Matt Beleskey and Sami Vatanen, who were both placed on injured reserve. Beleskey will be out of the lineup for approximately two to four weeks with an upper-body injury, and Vatanen is expected to miss four to six weeks with a lower-body injury. Both were injured during the first period of Anaheim’s game vs. Washington on Sunday night.
“What are you going to do? Stuff happens,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “You deal with it. We’ve dealt with it before. Other guys have got to jump in and do the job. It’s as simple as that. We expect a lot from everybody. Hopefully the guys who are healthy now pick up the slack and play a little better than we have in the last couple of weeks.”
Earlier today the Ducks recalled left wing Emerson Etem and defenseman Josh Manson from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League, and both were on the ice for practice.
“They’re bringing me up for a purpose, and my purpose is to come in here and not take anything away from the team,” said Etem, who has six points and four penalty minutes in 27 games with the Ducks this season. “I’ll add all that I can bring, and that’s speed and being first on the forecheck. Hopefully I can pot a couple home.”
The 22-year-old winger has 13 goals and 21 points in 22 AHL games with Norfolk this season, and co-led the Admirals in goals, led in power-play goals (6) and ranked fourth in scoring at the time of his recall.
No stranger to the AHL, Etem says he used his most recent stint to really take control. “I was learning how to dominate at that level,” he said. “I did it last year, and even this year, we were a struggling team, and I was happy to be a part of that. I just have to use my speed, and create open ice for me and my linemates. I’m just excited to be back and help this team win.”
Manson collected one assist with an even plus/minus rating and 25 penalty minutes in 18 games with the Ducks this season. The 23-year-old made his NHL debut on Oct. 31 at Dallas, and earned his first career NHL point (assist) with a career-high plus-2 rating on Nov. 16 vs. Florida.
Manson admits there is still much to be learned.
“It’s a very humbling league,” he said. “If you come back with too much confidence, you can make the wrong play, and it’ll humble you really quickly. I’m trying to come in with the same mindset as I did last time, and that’s being very open and wanting to play my game to help the team win.”
Goaltender Frederik Andersen faced a few shots in a limited appearance today during practice. Andersen, who was injured in the Feb. 8 game at Tampa Bay when the crossbar struck the back of his head, says he hopes to get in a full practice soon. As for now, it’s about taking things day by day.
“I’m feeling better, and I’m happy to be back on the ice and moving around,” he said. “I’m just trying to get back. It’s frustrating, but that’s how it is.”
As of now, he says he’s unsure if he’ll be on the team’s upcoming two-game road trip to Calgary and Edmonton later this week.