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Practice Report: Kesler Takes "Maintenance Day" as Ducks Prepare for Final Four

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Kyle Shohara

Pictures From Practice

After spending nine days away from Southern California, the Ducks got back to work Tuesday afternoon at The Rinks – Anaheim ICE, preparing for their upcoming three-game homestand that begins tomorrow against the Edmonton Oilers. That game will also be the annual Social Media Night, with several fun and interactive features going on for fans in the arena, watching on TV and of course on the Ducks’ social media platforms.

Absent from Ducks practice today were a few regulars, including forwards Ryan Kesler and Matt Beleskey, and defenseman Clayton Stoner.

Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said it was a “maintenance day” for Kesler, who has played in every game this season (78). “He’s played a lot of hockey, and he’s played very well,” Boudreau said of Kesler, who has 20 goals, 47 points and a 56.3 faceoff win percentage (sixth among league leaders). “We thought today would be a good day for him to take off.”

As for Beleskey and Stoner, who both missed Sunday’s game at New Jersey with lower-body injuries, Boudreau says neither player is feeling 100 percent just yet. “Matt is still more sore than Ryan is, and Clayton was banged up last game,” said Boudreau. “In a situation where we have seven other healthy defensemen, we kept him off.”

Among the seven d-men Boudreau mentioned is Simon Despres, the 23-year-old Laval, Quebec native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Trade Deadline Day in exchange for defenseman Ben Lovejoy. The former 2009 first-round draft pick has fit in nicely, initially paired with Cam Fowler and most recently with James Wisniewski. Despres has five points in 13 games with Anaheim, and is averaging 18:55 time on ice, over two minutes more than his 16:23 during his 59 games with Pittsburgh prior to the trade. “He’s fit in better than I thought,” said Boudreau. “He’s come in and has made decisions very difficult for us, as far as the top-six when that time comes.”

With only four games over the next 17 days, the Ducks will have plenty of practice time to iron out wrinkles and hone their craft before Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Some much-needed rest will be on the schedule as well, as the Ducks have four days between home games at the end of the week, and then another two days before their season finale at Arizona.

“You can never work too much on the little details of the game,” said defenseman Francois Beauchemin. “It’s going to be good to have those kinds of practices over the next couple of weeks. We haven’t really been able to work on those over the past month or two. We’ll get some rest and get ready to play.”

When asked if the unusual schedule is a concern, Boudreau took a parental approach in his response. “We [coaches] are concerned about everything. Coaches are like parents. You’re concerned about every little thing your kids do. I thought our practice today might’ve been as good of a practice as we’ve had in the last two months. They will have time off, but we need to keep driving into the players how important these practices are. We have to practice to get better; not practice just to practice.”

Could Tim Jackman be a possibility for tomorrow night’s game? Sidelined with a lower-body injury since March 1 (at Dallas), Jackman has been skating on his own and could take part in pre-game warm ups tomorrow, according to Boudreau. “In a perfect world, I’d like to get him back for the last two games, but we’ll see. He skated well by himself this morning.”

Jackman has five goals and seven points in 53 games with Anaheim this season, and leads the club with 84 penalty minutes.

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