After a tough loss last night to the Kings, the Ducks were back on the ice this afternoon at Honda Center. Absent from the practice, however, was free agent signing Dany Heatley, who left last night’s game with a lower-body injury.
Earlier today, the Ducks revealed that it was a groin injury for Heatley, one that will keep him out for a minimum of a week. It’s an unfortunate setback for Heatley, who scored two goals in his first two preseason games. In his place on the top line today was Patrick Maroon, who skated with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry at times last season.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau says he wants Maroon to do what he did last year when he was on the top line, and that’s using his strength and size. “Control the boards,” he said. “He’s a big, strong guy. That’s pretty well what we want.”
Nicknamed “The Big Dog,” Maroon says he needs to stick to what he does best. “I need to be big, physical, make plays and open space for them,” he said. “They’re two really good players. We all know that. I just need to be a presence out there, win my battles, protect pucks down low and create offense for them. Hopefully we can do damage out there.”
Maroon will have plenty of time to work with Getzlaf and Perry since the Ducks don’t play their preseason finale until Saturday night vs. San Jose. Maroon says today was a good start on rectifying several areas of the team’s game. “Today was a really good day of practice,” he said. “We got some things done that we needed to sharpen. Everyone is excited to get going. It should be a good, fun practice week.”
ROSTER MOVESAssigned to Norfolk (AHL):
The Ducks made their second round of roster moves this afternoon, reducing their training camp roster to 32 players. In all, 17 forwards, 12 defensemen and three goaltenders remain. Below is a list of today’s roster moves:
Matt Bailey - Center
Igor Bobkov - Goaltender
Kevin Gagne - Defenseman
Nicolas Kerdiles - Left wing
John Kurtz - Left wing
Louis Leblanc - Center/right wing
Stefan Noesen - Right wing
Andrew O’Brien - DefensemanAssigned to Peterborough (OHL):
Nick Ritchie - Left wingReleased from professional tryout and assigned to Norfolk (AHL):
Brendan Bell - Defenseman
Steve MacIntyre - Left wing
David Steckel - Center
Brad Winchester - Left wingReleased from professional tryout:
Brandon Yip - Right wing
Two players who are staying with the big club, at least for the next little while, are Max Friberg and Mat Clark. Both players spent all of last season with the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League, though Clark’s season was limited to only 23 games because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. Friberg appeared in 74 games with the Admirals, collecting 40 points (17g/23a) with 55 penalty minutes. Friberg ranked tied for second in the AHL and co-led the team in shorthanded goals (3), and ranked second among team leaders in appearances, tied for second in assists, third in scoring and goals, and tied for fourth in power-play goals (5).
Both skaters are getting extended looks in the preseason, something Boudreau says they’ve earned. “They’ve been in the minors, they’re hard guys to play against,” he said. “It’s effort. They’ve given it their all. They need the reward and got the reward by staying longer.”
Friberg attended rookie camp in early September and took part in the two Futures Games vs. San Jose, earning a goal in the first contest at Anaheim ICE. The 21-year-old Swede was selected in the fifth round (143rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
“It was great news,” he said, when he was notified that he was staying in Anaheim. “I’m happy to still be here, and I’m excited to work even harder to remain here.”
One of the areas in which he has shined thus far is on the penalty kill, and Friberg saw plenty of time on the PK in Anaheim’s game at San Jose on Saturday. Friberg led all forwards in time-on-ice that night (20:09), and finished only behind defensemen Sami Vatanen (25:51) and Kevin Gagne (25:36). “We only played PK that night,” he joked. “I got a lot of ice time there. I felt good. I’m going to continue working hard and being more effective as an offensive player. It’s been fun, and I think I’ve made an impression.”
Clark is battling for a spot on a deep Ducks blueline, so being here, he says, is good news. “It’s definitely a compliment,” he said. “This is a great organization with a lot of depth, so to be around this long is great. I’m taking it as a learning experience. Watching these guys every day is awesome.”
Clark, a native Coloradoan, says he wasn’t exactly sure what to expect coming off of shoulder surgery. “I don’t feel too far behind,” he said. “Coming off of summer, we’re all on the same page here. I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things.
“Making it this far is great, but you want to be around here all season. We’ll see what happens, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s going so far.”