ANAHEIM – In anticipation of their home opener Thursday night against the New York Rangers, the Anaheim Ducks will have a lineup similar to what they thought they would have when the season started.
Emerson Etem is expected to make his season debut after a lower-body injury kept him out the first three games. Etem, a local product from Long Beach, is eager to get going after posting three goals and 10 points in 38 regular-season games in 2012-13 before taking off in the postseason with three goals and five points in seven games.
"I feel like a kid in a candy store again," Etem said. "It just feels so great to be with the guys each and every day in the locker room and sharing the laughs that I missed over the past couple of weeks. They've been doing a great job as a support system and pushing me to get back. That's a huge reason I'm here."
The speedy Etem is expected to help Anaheim's penalty killing unit, which has allowed five goals in three games. Not all players participated in the morning skate, so Anaheim did not do line rushes and coach Bruce Boudreau didn't reveal where Etem would start, although the 21-year-old did play on a line with veterans Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano in training camp.
"A lot is going to be determined with Emerson, as everybody else, as how the game goes," Boudreau said. "If we're going well, I'll keep things the same. But if things aren't going in our direction, then we'll move people around. That's one thing about our team, we've got a lot of interchangeable parts up front."
Boudreau did say that Dustin Penner will start out with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the top line, as was the original plan when Penner returned to Anaheim after signing with the team as a free agent over the summer. Penner was demoted in training camp and scratched for the first game, but is coming off a good performance in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
"He was the guy we signed to be in that position and we feel he's ready now," Boudreau said. "I think he's worked really hard to get where he is, and hopefully he'll play really well tonight."
Here are the expected lineups for Thursday night:
Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Jakob Silfverberg – Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne
Daniel Winnik – Saku Koivu – Andrew Cogliano
Emerson Etem – Nick Bonino – Patrick Maroon
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy
Bryan Allen – Sami Vatanen
Injured: Kyle Palmieri (upper body), Matt Beleskey (upper body), Luca Sbisa (ankle)
Scratched: Mark Fistric
NOTES: Boudreau said that Beleskey will be out "about a week or so" and that Palmieri could return Sunday against the Ottawa Senators.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Benoit Pouliot - Brad Richards – Ryan Callahan
Derick Brassard – Brian Boyle – Mats Zuccarello
Taylor Pyatt – Derek Stepan – Jesper Fast
Derek Dorsett – Dominic Moore – Arron Asham
Marc Staal – Dan Girardi
Anton Stralman – Ryan McDonagh
John Moore – Michael Del Zotto
Injured: Rick Nash (upper body), Carl Hagelin (shoulder)
Scratched: Justin Falk