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Pregame: Sgarbossa Earns Top-Line Role Tonight

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks will have to make do without their captain, Ryan Getzlaf, and linemate Nick Ritchie, who both skated before the team did this morning, but will not play tonight, as confirmed by head coach Randy Carlyle. Both players are dealing with upper-body injuries suffered during the game on Tuesday night against the LA Kings. Tonight will mark the second consecutive game in which both players are out of the lineup.

Carlyle juggled lines this morning at the pregame skate leading up to tonight's contest against the Arizona Coyotes. Taking rushes with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry was rookie center Michael Sgarbossa, while veteran center Antoine Vermette skated with Joseph Cramarossa and Ondrej Kase. The shutdown line composed of Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg remained intact, while the fourth line included Ryan Garbutt, Chris Wagner and Jared Boll.

Korbinian Holzer will also draw into the lineup tonight replacing Shea Theodore, who was reassigned to San Diego yesterday. Holzer skated alongside Kevin Bieksa this morning.

Likely to make his 10th start of the season tonight is John Gibson, who was the first goaltender to leave the ice this morning. His backup will be Jonathan Bernier, who, on the other hand, has made two starts this season.

Back to Sgarbossa, the 24-year-old knows this is a prime opportunity to show his wares at the NHL level. He's already proven to be a steady, point-producing center in the AHL after finishing third on the Gulls last season in scoring with 44 points (17g/27a) in 62 games. He was also one of the last cuts before opening night rosters had to be submitted this season.

"It's a good opportunity for me to show what I can do," said Sgarbossa, who earned his first point as a Duck on October 26 vs. Nashville. "It's a chance to play with two top-notch players with Perry and Rakell. Perry is probably a Hall-of-Famer and Rakell is one of the most-skilled guys on the team. It's special to play with those two guys. I just need to make sure to do all the little things right to help those guys out in any way."

Carlyle says Sgarbossa is a player they can trust, and the veteran coach has no problem inserting the rookie into a top-line role despite only 15 games of NHL experience.

"He probably wasn't on a lot of people's radars in the middle of the summer to be a part of our lineup," said Carlyle. "But with injuries and contract situations, he found a way to stick around. He can skate and kill penalties. That youth, exuberance and work ethic are what we're going to ask him to bring night in, night out."

Injuries have accumulated for the Coyotes, too. Forward Tobias Rieder missed last night's game against the Nashville Predators because of a lower-body injury suffered while blocking a shot against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Veteran center Martin Hanzal (lower body) and defenseman Michael Stone (upper body) didn't play last night and both are considered day to day. Goaltender Mike Smith suffered a lower-body injury on October 18 at Ottawa and has since been placed on IR. Louis Domingue and Justin Peters make up the battery in net for the Coyotes.

Potential Line Combinations









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