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Preview: New Line Combinations a Possibility as Ducks Look to End Skid

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

Maybe the best things for the Ducks is a little home cooking.

Tonight the Ducks (5-5-1, 11 points) open their first extended homestand of the season - four games - against the San Jose Sharks (5-3-2, 12 points) at Honda Center. (5 p.m. PT, TV: FOX Sports West, Radio: AM 830). It comes at a key juncture in the season, as the Ducks look to snap a four-game losing streak.

Adversity is nothing new to the Ducks. Injuries have played a prominent role since Day 1, most recently Nick Ritchie, who suffered an upper-body ailment in the second period of the Dallas game on Thursday. He joined a list of injured forwards that includes Max Comtois, Ondrej Kase and Carter Rowney - none of which skated yesterday in practice.

Because of this, the Ducks have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Tonight we could see dependable center Adam Henrique slide over to left wing alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. Henrique has been used almost exclusively at center since he was acquired from the New Jersey Devils last November, but the veteran pivot has experience on the wing.

"Any time you're challenged through different situations, and injuries are always one of the big ones in pro sports, you're forced to do some things you normally didn't think you'd have to do," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. "We wanted to make sure we can develop a top offensive line. Henrique can slide into any of those positions because we've done that before with him. We have a young player in Sam Steel that has historically played offensive roles. [Ryan] Kesler is back now, closer to what he's been before, so it gives us a little bit more depth at center to feel we can possibly move Henrique out of the center position with [Isac] Lundestrom being a natural center.

"Believe me, we would like to have a set lineup," Carlyle adds. "When you don't have success and you have lots of injuries, you're always trying to mix and match. We're just trying to find the right combinations."

There is hope that one of Anaheim's leading point producers is ready to return to the lineup. After missing the past five games with a broken finger, Jakob Silfverberg took part in the full team practice yesterday. Though nothing is confirmed, Silfverberg would be a welcomed return for a team that is struggling to find offense on a consistent basis.

"Feels a lot better than it did two weeks ago," Silfverberg said to reporters yesterday. "It's definitely a step in the right direction. I've been skating every day. My legs are fine, it's just the tip of my finger. It's been a work in progress. I was shooting pucks and battling."

As for the Sharks, tonight concludes a three-game road trip that covers three time zones. It started with a victory last Tuesday against the Nashville Predators and continued on Friday with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The setback snapped a three-game losing streak, but the Sharks have gone 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. Brent Burns paces the club in assists (10) and points (12), while Timo Meier leads in goals (6). Erik Karlsson is still looking for his first goal as a Shark, earning six points (all assists) in 10 games.

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