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At the Rink: Ducks at Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Defenseman James Wisniewski is ready to return from a foot injury and play his first game with the Anaheim Ducks on Monday against the Vancouver Canucks.

There's one problem: He still doesn't have his equipment.

Wisniewski said after the morning skate Monday he is ready to play after he sustained a bone bruise in his final game with the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 1. He was traded to Anaheim the next day, but his equipment got stuck in Memphis because of weather issues so he remains without his own skates, and perhaps most importantly, a custom-fit brace for his right knee.

Wisniewski said the equipment arrived in Anaheim late Sunday and Ducks general manager Bob Murray was bringing it to Vancouver on Monday afternoon, so he's hoping to play.

"I'm told there’s a 95-percent chance it will be here for tonight's game," Wisniewski said after wearing borrowed skates and a knee brace for the morning skate. "I guess there was storms of something in Memphis and it just got stuck and I don't know if they didn't think I was going to play this quickly or what."

Wisniewski had been borrowing sticks from fellow right-shot Ryan Kesler before finally getting some his sticks Monday morning.

"Kesler's are 80-flex; I use a 105," Wisniewski said. “It's like if you're used to an extra-stiff driver and you use a [whippier] club."

Wisniewski said he has no problem breaking in new elbow, shin and shoulder pads, and needed new gloves and helmet in Ducks colors. But using someone else's skates isn't ideal, and after three ACL reconstructions he won't play without his brace.

"I don't go out there without a knee brace," Wisniewski said.

While Wisniewski wants to get into a game with his new team, the hard-shooting defenseman admitted there is less urgency since the Ducks have a 13-point lead on second-place Vancouver in the Pacific Division. The Canucks, who are second in the division but four points ahead of the fourth-place Los Angeles Kings, don't have the same luxury with top-pairing defenseman Christopher Tanev, who will return from a head injury.

Tanev missed 10 games and will be reunited with regular playing partner Alexander Elder, who returned two games earlier from an upper-body injury that kept him out eight games.

Tanev was averaging 21:05 per game and had been matched mostly against the opponents' top forward lines. He'll have his hands full against a deep Ducks team that seems likely to start Monday with top forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry playing on different lines.

"It will be a tough game to jump back in," said Tanev, who has been out since Feb. 14. "You obviously want to be in the lineup and playing, but the guys have been doing a great job. I'm just going to go out there, work hard and try to keep things simple."

Here are the projected lineups:

DUCKS

Patrick Maroon - Ryan Getzlaf - Kyle Palmieri

Tomas Fleischmann - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Jiri Sekac - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry

Emerson Etem - Nate Thompson - Andrew Cogliano

Cam Fowler - Simon Despres

Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin

Clayton Stoner - James Wisniewski

Frederik Andersen

John Gibson

Scratched: Chris Wagner, Josh Manson, Korbinian Holzer

Injured: Matt Beleskey (shoulder), Sami Vatanen (lower body), Tim Jackman (lower body)

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Zack Kassian

Shawn Matthias - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata

Alexandre Burrows - Brandon McMillan - Linden Vey

Derek Dorsett - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis - Luca Sbisa

Ryan Stanton - Frank Corrado

Eddie Lack

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Ronalds Kenins, Adam Clendening

Injured: Ryan Miller (knee), Kevin Bieksa (broken hand), Brad Richardson (foot), Chris Higgins (lower body), Yannick Weber (upper body)

Status update: Vatanen, Beleskey and Holzer skated Monday morning. Holzer, who came to Anaheim in a March 2 trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Eric Brewer and a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has been out with an upper-body injury. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said Holzer could make his Ducks debut if Wisniewski doesn't play. … Vatanen and Beleskey are out against the Canucks, but could return during this three-game road trip. … Andersen will play back-to-back games despite Boudreau's plan to alternate with Gibson down the stretch. … Bieksa skated with teammates Monday for the first time since having surgery to repair a finger shattered by a shot in a Jan. 20 game, but is probably at least a week away from returning. "My shot is about as hard as yours right now," Bieksa told reporters when asked about a timeline for his return. "And I think we all agree that's not good enough for the NHL. So we'll take a few more days here."

Who's hot: Andersen, who recently returned after missing three weeks with a neck injury is coming off a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday but is 3-0-1 with a .947 save percentage in four games this season against the Canucks. … Vrbata scored twice in a 3-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday and has three goals and six points during a four-game point streak despite not playing most of it on the top line with the Sedins.

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