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Wiz and Koivu Hope to be Available

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
By Matt Vevoda

AnaheimDucks.com

Fresh off the buzz of their homestand-launching overtime victory last night, the Ducks looked ahead to tomorrow night’s test against the rival Sharks hoping for the return of two of their injured mates.

"It’s pretty amazing how big it got," said Wisniewski of his bruised right foot. "Honestly, from last night to today, it’s night and day. Today is 10 times better. Hopefully with some more treatment and icing it all day, I can try to play tomorrow.”
Center Saku Koivu (strained groin), Ryan Carter (bruised foot) and defenseman Steve Eminger (back spasms) were not in uniform last night, while defenseman James Wisniewski left midway through the first period after taking a shot off his foot. Winger Joffrey Lupul didn’t miss any time after suffering a lower-body injury, but wasn’t able to practice today. 

Of those, the only player ruled out by Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle for Saturday was Carter, who was seen walking around the team’s locker room in a support boot. Koivu, who has missed the last five games, returned for his first full practice with the team since the injury on Friday.

“It feels pretty good," Koivu said after practice. “We’ll see how it is in the morning. At this point, I don’t want to say yes or no. With these types of things, you test it more and more and see the reactions. If everything goes well, than it’s possible I can play tomorrow.”

Wisniewski left last night’s win in the opening period with a bruised right foot after blocking a Paul Szczechura shot. But the good news is, the swelling had subsiding substantially by Friday afternoon.

“It was pretty much a harmless play,” said Wisniewski, who is fourth on the team with 10 assists this season. “The puck hit me on the top of the foot. It turned into being a really bad bruise. It’s pretty amazing how big it got. Honestly, from last night to today, it’s night and day. Today is 10 times better. Hopefully with some more treatment and icing it all day, I can try to play tomorrow.”

“It feels pretty good," said Koivu, of the groin injury that has kept him out for five games. “We’ll see how it is in the morning. At this point, I don’t want to say yes or no. With these types of things, you test it more and more and see the reactions. If everything goes well, than it’s possible I can play tomorrow.”
When Wisniewski left after playing just 5:12 in last night’s game, the rest of Anaheim’s defense was left to collectively pick up the slack for a player averaging the third-most minutes on the team (24:00 per game). Not wanting to put all of the pressure on the shoulders of Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Whitney (the team leaders in minutes) led to Nick Boynton (25:40), Sheldon Brookbank (18:26) and Brendan Mikkelson (19:27) all incurring season-highs for time on the ice.

“Any time you lose a player that is going to play top-3 minutes for you, it puts a lot of burden on your players,” Carlyle said. “It was nice to see that they were able to complement one another with some strong minutes.”

Said Mikkelson, “You never want to see a guy like Wiz, who eats up so many important minutes, go down. Stuff like that does happen. You have to be ready. In my position, whoever they want me to play with, I’m not going to have any qualms and be the best partner on the ice that I can be.”

Lupul was treated today for his lower-body injury and remained optimistic on his recovery. “There is some soreness in my lower body and hopefully it can be taken care of for tomorrow or some time after that,” Lupul said. “I definitely wouldn’t rule myself out for tomorrow.”

Said Carlyle, “Lupul has experienced some tightness in his lower body and we decided to hold him off the ice today. Serious to me is a day. When he can’t skate today, that is serious. It just seems that whenever we say it’s going to be this or only that, it goes the other direction. I’m saying everything is serious at this point.We’ll know better tomorrow if the treatment has an effect that he can take part in our pre-game skate tomorrow. We think it will be something that will allow him to play.”

Tomorrow evening’s affair is Anaheim’s second meeting of the season with the rival Sharks, who once again own the best record in the NHL at 14-5-4 (32 points). Playoff combatants in last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals (which Anaheim won 4 games to 2), San Jose came out with a 4-1 win in the Ducks’ season opener on Oct. 3 at Honda Center.

“You never want to see a guy like Wiz, who eats up so many important minutes, go down," Mikkelson said. "Stuff like that does happen. You have to be ready. In my position, whoever they want me to play with, I’m not going to have any qualms and be the best partner on the ice that I can be.”
“It’s going to be a big test for us tomorrow, playing against us a team that we beat in the playoffs last year, a divisional rival and one of the hottest team in the league,” Wisniewski said.

The Ducks face that test with a little more confidence after weathering the storm in last night’s victory over Tampa Bay. The Ducks went up 3-0 in the first 27 minutes of the game, only to see that lead disappear early in the third. Collectively they tightened up from that point, setting up Niedermayer’s game-winner in overtime. 

“We feel a lot better about ourselves today than we did the day before yesterday,” Carlyle said. “That is what we’re trying to build on. First and foremost, the work ethic that we displayed from the start of the hockey game was critical. We have to provide ourselves with an opportunity to have a good start. It is a starting point for your group for what night’s work they are going to have to put in. There are going to peaks and valleys, penalties, power plays and momentum swings that do take place in the game. But you have to build off the start.”
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