By Adam Brady
A Ducks team that has been plagued by injuries for most of the first quarter of the season got one player back and lost another midway through practice this afternoon at Honda Center.
Young center William Karlsson was back skating with the team for the first time since missing the last week with the flu. (He did not the mumps, which kept Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin out and could possibly be the cause of Clayton Stoner’s illness that caused him to miss the past two games, though he has not been officially diagnosed.)
Karlsson sat out the games at Calgary and Vancouver last week, as well as last night’s win over Arizona at Honda Center, and said he was glad to get back on the ice today. “I felt good,” said the 21-year-old rookie who has two goals and an assist in 16 games. “It’s been some rough days this past week, so it was good to get out there with the team. It’s always tough to watch on TV instead of being out there. But the way I was feeling, there was no way I could join them. I’m happy to be back out there."
Karlsson currently remains on injured reserve and didn’t appear optimistic about playing tomorrow night in a rematch with the Flames in Anaheim. “I’m not 100 percent yet,” he said. “I lost some weight, so I need to get some strength back.”
UPDATE (5 p.m. Pacific): Karlsson was reassigned to Norfolk of the AHL.
Stoner also missed last night’s game, but skated on his own first thing this morning at Honda Center, “so he’s not feeling too bad,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “But it’s a five-day incubation period. He might be eligible to play tomorrow, but we’ll have to see.
“I still don’t really know what’s going on with it, but I know there’s an incubation period where you’re contagious, so we’ve kept him away from the rest of the team.”
Defenseman Mark Fistric, who is trying to make his way back after missing the last 11 games with a back injury, suffered a setback when he took a puck to the mouth during practice today. Boudreau said Fistric was at the hospital getting stitches, but had no further information.
Meanwhile, one Ducks player who lost significant time with injury has proven as of late that he’s back at 100 percent. Winger Kyle Palmieri, who missed the season’s first 18 games with an ankle sprain, had a big goal last night in the second period of what was eventually a 2-1 win over the Coyotes. It was his second goal in four games, and it came on an unorthodox play in which Arizona goalie Mike Smith took a tumble playing the puck behind the net, and was kept down when teammate Zbynek Michalek fell on top of him. That allowed Palmieri’s linemate, Ryan Kesler, to feed the puck in front for one-timer.
“I just happened to be coming down the slot when Kes threw it out there,” Palmieri said today. “A lot of things had to fall in place, literally, for that to happen. But it was good to get that one.”
Even though it looked like a gift goal, Boudreau emphasized that Palmieri’s skill helped make it happen. “It was unorthodox, but other guys wouldn’t have been in that position to get that goal, and get the puck off so quick,” Boudreau said. “He’s got a knack for the net. I guarantee a third of our team would have had that deflected or missed it. He bared down on that puck and he put it in. We don’t have a lot of that right now, and we’re not scoring at the rate we scored last year. With him back, we’re getting an added dimension that’s needed right now.”
The Ducks will need that once again tomorrow night when they battle a Calgary team that knocked them off in a shootout last Tuesday in Calgary. The Flames, who will likely start former Duck Jonas Hiller in net, have lost 18 straight games at Honda Center, dating back to January 19, 2004.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Palmieri said. “They haven’t won in this building in awhile, so they’re going to want to come in here and show they’re the real deal. We’ve got to be ready from the drop of the puck. We’ve been slowly inching our way to a 60-minute effort, so hopefully we put one together tomorrow night.”
That’s something the Ducks didn’t display in Calgary, when the Flames wiped out a 2-0 lead with three unanswered, and Anaheim needed Palmieri’s late goal in regulation to send the game to OT.
“Calgary really believes in themselves right now,” Boudreau said. “It’s a little bit like us last year, where we felt we were capable of winning no matter the deficit.”
When Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester missed last night’s game in Winnipeg with a lower body injury after playing 737 in a row, Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano became the NHL’s active leader in consecutive games played. Last night was the 562nd straight for Cogliano, who hasn’t missed a game since coming into the league with Edmonton in 2007.
Cogliano was at first modest about the distinction when asked about it today by reporters, especially in light of Bouwmeester’s injury, but later admitted, “I’m very proud of it. I don’t walk around and think I’m anything I’m not, but it’s something I’m proud of. I come from a hard-working family. My parents have brought me up the right way and instilled a lot of good values in me. I think that shows in how I play the game and how I work.
"A lot of it has to do with luck, at the end of the day. I do take care of myself and do the right things in the summer and during the year to try and avoid injuries. I do feel like I’m one of those guys who wants to be there every night and contribute, and I think I’ve done that.”
Cogliano also acknowledged that among the various reasons a player can have for missing a game in this league, the coach’s decision can also be a factor.
“I think that’s the one thing I take out of it the most, is that every team I’ve played on, the coaches wanted me in the lineup,” he said. “They believe in me and think I can contribute. I want to be someone Bruce can count on, and someone this organization wants here and part of this team for a long time. That’s the only thing that I look at. So far it’s been that way. I think I’ve been coming into my own the last couple of years here, and I want to continue that.”