By Kyle Shohara
Photos from Practice
Monday’s practice at The Rinks – Anaheim ICE had the look – and feel – of what you might expect in training camp. The practice was broken into two sessions and ended with a taxing skating drill that left many of the players hunched over. Such is the life of a team in the midst of four days between games.
A handful of injured Ducks also took part in the practice, including three players dealing with lower-body injuries. Matt Beleskey skated with his familiar linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, while Tim Jackman was part of a six-man group that included Emerson Etem, Patrick Maroon, Nate Thompson, Chris Wagner and Stefan Noesen. Defenseman Clayton Stoner was also on the ice for both sessions, as was Maroon, who had been battling flu-like symptoms. It’s a good time to get healthy, with only two games remaining before the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Beleskey hasn’t played since March 28 against the New York Islanders. An injury during pregame warm-ups the next day at New Jersey has sidelined him for the past three games, but the rugged forward says today was a big step in the right direction.
“I want to see how I feel at the end of today, but as of right now, I feel great,” said Beleskey, who ranks third on the team with 22 goals. “That was a good test for sure. Coming off a day off you always feel a little sluggish, but tomorrow we’ll have another good practice and go from there.” Beleskey says his goal is to play in the team’s home finale (Fan Appreciation Night) on Wednesday vs. Dallas.
It’s been over a month since Jackman suffered a lower-body injury in a game at American Airlines Center in Dallas, but today he expressed optimism that Wednesday could mark his return to the lineup.
“I’m getting closer, so whenever the doctors say ‘Go for it,’ then hopefully soon,” he said. “I hope the doctors say I’m OK and the coaches want me to play. I’m getting better. I’ve been able to practice with the team the last week, and it’s another step up in intensity.” Jackman says he’ll talk with the team trainers today and possibly see the doctors tomorrow, at which point a decision on his status for Wednesday could become clearer.
Jackman knows his spot in the lineup won’t be handed to him on a silver platter, but he’s doing everything he can to make sure he’s ready whenever he’s called upon.
“Everybody wants to be a part of this team, and everybody wants to play,” he said. “I come in and try to work hard and earn my spot if I have a chance. We’re all fighting for the same goal and we’re all here for the same reason. That’s the only way I can look at it. I’m cheering for everybody that’s in the lineup, and hopefully they do the same if I get the chance.”
In Bruce Boudreau’s eyes, he already knows what he’s getting when Jackman returns to the lineup. Right now, it’s a matter of Jackman getting back into game shape after being out for 16 consecutive games.
“I’d like to see him play in both games to get back in game shape,” Boudreau said. “For a guy like him who’s been out, he’s got to make contact with people to see how his leg feels with contact.”
After a brief bout with illness, the guy known as “Big Dog” was happy to be back on the ice with his teammates.
“I needed a couple days to get some fluids in me,” said Maroon, who set career highs in assists (25) and points (34) this season. “Today was an exciting day for me, so hopefully I can get in two games and be ready for playoffs. It’s just good to be around the guys. This is the [best] time of the year. All smiles from me today.”