will play tonight when the Ducks face the Islanders in Long Island
for the first time since 2003.
“I’m ready,” Selanne said after today’s morning skate. “I felt pretty good in the skate this morning. I’m excited.”
"The final stage always happens in games," he said. "I don’t think by practicing any more it’s going to make the situation better. “I’m at the level I need to step on the ice. Obviously, I’m going to be patient. I’m not going to expect to right away be at the same level that I was the last couple of years.”
The decision on whether Selanne will be in the lineup tonight was seemingly in the hands of Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. Although, Carlyle gave a different perspective when he talked to reporters this morning.
“He says it’s my decision and I say it’s his decision,” said the usually-guarded Carlyle with a smile. “There are a lot of positives in the way he feels and he says he’s feeling pretty good.”
Selanne’s debut couldn’t come at a better time for a Ducks team that has lost six in a row and hasn’t score in the last six periods. Tonight is the fourth game on their current eight-game, 15-day road trip.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Selanne said. “We’ve lost a lot of games lately, so it’s time to turn this whole thing around. It’s good timing and I want to see hungry guys out there.”
Carlyle too hopes that Selanne’s imminent return will have a major effect on the slumping Ducks offense.
“He’s going to play in our top six forwards and we’re going to expect some form of offense from the group,” Carlyle said. “We think we can provide him with an environment where his strengths might entice our other players to score a little more. We haven’t scored in the past two games, and obviously that’s a little bit of an issue for us.”
Selanne has been working out with the team on the entire trip, trying to quickly get into game shape. But he says, “There is only so much you can get from practicing. The games and everything is next that I have to get back.”
Adds Carlye, “You have to expedite things as far as strengthening his groin areas and whatnot for the skating legs. He’s a skater and if he doesn’t have his legs underneath him, it’s a challenge for him to play at his highest level.”
Carlyle says Selanne’s presence alone can only help the Ducks.
“You’re always looking for positive influences,” Carlyle said, “and when you’ve lost six in a row and haven’t scored in six periods, it’s time to bring as many positives as we can.
- Should Selanne play tonight, it would be almost 12 years to the day since he made his Ducks debut on Feb. 10, 1996, also against the Islanders. According to the box score of that game, Selanne scored his first goal as a Ducks at the 13:35 mark of the first period in a 4-3 loss to the Islanders. But Selanne says he remembers it differently.
“Nothing happened in that first period,” he said this morning. “It was in the second. I got a pass from [Steve Rucchin] on the breakaway and I shot it five-hole.” Asked is he was sure about that, Selanne said with a smile, “I’m 100 percent sure.”
- Mathieu Schneider said after the morning skate that he is going to play tonight, despite missing the last two games with a sprained wrist. Schneider saw a specialist in Baltimore yesterday and received a cortisone shot this morning. “It feels a lot better today,” Schneider said. “He says it’s just going to get better and better. It feels much better than the last couple of days.”
Carlyle said Schneider’s availability “will be a warmup decision. He looked pretty good this morning. Things are pointing in the right direction, but he’ll skate in warmup and we’ll make a decision.”
- Samuel Pahlsson also skated with the Ducks this morning, but is unlikely to play tonight.
- Travis Moen skipped the morning skate after apparently suffering from the flu (which has been going around the team on this trip). Chris Pronger did not practice yesterday after suffering from flu-like symptoms, but he was on the ice this morning.