By Kyle Shohara
With news that defenseman Cam Fowler suffered a sprained knee in last night’s 4-2 victory over Philadelphia, the Ducks recalled Shea Theodore from San Diego of the American Hockey League. Fowler’s recovery timeline will be determined later this week, but he will not play on the team’s upcoming three-game road trip. Fowler has since been placed on injured reserve.
“We all consider him one of our top defensemen,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said of Fowler, who was arguably the team’s most consistent d-man. “You lose him for any length of time, and I don’t know what the timeframe is, but it’s going to hurt any time he’s not playing.”
As for Theodore, Boudreau says there’s a “good chance” the talented 20-year-old makes his NHL debut this week. “He’s played well,” Boudreau said. “He’s a very good quarterback of the power play. That’s been his strength his whole life. If he plays, I think he’ll do well.”
The road trip begins tomorrow night in Calgary, where yesterday the Flames set a franchise record with their 11th consecutive victory on home ice. The Ducks will then travel to Edmonton to play the Oilers on New Year’s Eve before closing out the trip on New Year’s Day in Vancouver. Theodore, by the way, is a British Columbia native (Langley).
“I’m just happy to be here, but it’s awesome if you get in the lineup,” said Theodore, who was dropped off in Anaheim around 11:30 last night. [The Gulls were heading back to San Diego following a road game in Bakersfield at the time]. “I’ve been playing pretty strong. We kind of play the same system, so hopefully it’s not too much [of an adjustment] if I do get in.”
With the Gulls, Theodore recorded 16 points (4g/12a) with 14 penalty minutes in 27 games this season. At the time of his recall, Theodore ranked tied for third among team leaders in power-play goals (3), third in assists and tied for fourth in scoring.
The importance of the road trip is self-explanatory. Calgary (36 points), Edmonton (33 points) and Vancouver (37 points) are teams the Ducks (32 points) need to leapfrog in order to get climb their way out of last place in the division.
“When you’re playing a divisional opponent, you have to make sure you’re ready to play,” said Boudreau. “We’re heading into Calgary, so it’s not going to be easy. We’ll dig our boots in and see what we can do.”
“It goes without saying that this road trip is big for us,” said Nate Thompson. “We can definitely be over .500 if we win all these games and be in good position coming home.” The Ducks, of course, will return to Anaheim for a season-long eight-game homestand that runs from Jan. 3-20.
As for stringing wins together on a regular basis – something the Ducks haven’t done all season – Thompson says it’s a matter of consistency.
“We have to make sure we play the same way night in, night out,” Thompson said. “Last night we played a pretty complete game in all facets. We were, overall, pretty good last night. It’s all about being consistent. The last road trip we were up and down at times.”