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Pregame Report: Sekac Excited to Face Former Team

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Kyle Shohara

Morning Skate Photos

Despite it being an optional morning skate, the majority of the team took part in the 30-minute on-ice session as they prepare for tonight’s opponent, the Montreal Canadiens.

John Gibson will make his 10th start in the past 11 games overall after Frederik Andersen returned to the crease last night in Anaheim’s 4-1 victory at Arizona. The victory was Andersen’s 50th in his first 68 career NHL decisions (50-13-5), matching Bill Durnan's NHL-record 50 wins in his first 68 decisions (set in Dec. 1944). Andersen also became the fourth Anaheim goaltender to record a 30-win season.

Gibson enters tonight’s game with a 5-1-0 record, 1.98 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in his last six contests, and a 6-3-0 record in 10 games since his recall, Feb. 10.

Left wing Matt Beleskey (upper body) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (lower body) were both on the ice for the skate – an encouraging sign for Ducks fans. Beleskey and Vatanen were injured in the Feb. 15 game vs. Washington, and the timetable at the time was two to four weeks for Beleskey and four to six for Vatanen.

However, the Ducks announced that right wing Tim Jackman will miss four to six weeks with a lower-body injury. Jackman was injured on Sunday in his second shift against the Stars, and did not return. Jackman has since been placed on injured reserve.

It was the Jiri Sekac Show inside the Ducks locker room following the morning skate at Honda Center. Acquired from Montreal eight days ago in exchange for Devante Smith-Pelly, Sekac has fit in nicely with his new team, recording two assists and a plus-2 rating in his four games with the Ducks.

“It’s going to be fun to play against them,” said Sekac, who recorded seven goals and 16 points in 50 games with Montreal this season. “I’m pretty excited about it.”

Shortly after he was traded to Anaheim, Sekac admitted he was never sure of his role on the Canadiens. But it’s a different story here, and he’s since flourished under Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau.

“I have a lot of opportunities here from the coaching staff, and they really believe in me,” he said. “I’m getting a really good chance. I’m just trying to give it back. Our team is way more offensive than the Habs. It gives me even more confidence in here.”

Sekac was asked if he’s happier now with the Ducks than he was with the Canadiens because, according to a Montreal reporter, his smile came back. With a big, almost shy grin, Sekac said, “I’m very happy.”

Simon Despres
earned an assist and a plus-3 rating in 20:23 TOI in his Ducks debut last night, two days after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for defenseman Ben Lovejoy.

Although a left-handed shot, Depres has played the right side for most of his professional career, and last night was paired with Cam Fowler. Despres appeared in 144 career NHL games with Pittsburgh prior to the trade.

“So far, I like what I’ve seen in the room,” he said. “The guys are really nice, they have good team chemistry, and it’s a really good team. So I’m excited about the opportunity to be with the Ducks.”

“He’s big and physical, and he can make plays,” said Boudreau. “Those are things we can really use and need. He showed it last night. He got a big hit and got an assist.

“You can talk to anybody…defensemen take at least 300 games in the NHL to learn how to play the game, let alone be a star in the game,” Boudreau added. “Defense is a tough position to learn, and you have to have a little bit of patience with those guys. He seems to be getting it, so that’s a good sign.”

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