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Ducks' Sbisa hoping to make instant impact

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- One look at the game log for Anaheim Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa says that it hasn't been a memorable season so far. He sprained his ankle during a preseason game, came back for nine games and then tore a tendon in his right hand in a fight Nov. 22.

"If you look back at how the year's going so far, to be honest, it's been terrible," Sbisa said. "It's definitely not the way I pictured the year going. But things like this happen. There's still a lot of games left and hopefully a lot of playoff games left, and I think I can show up and play well and really help the team out."

Sbisa will be back in the Ducks lineup when they host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Sbisa has been a part of Anaheim's banged-up defense, along with Sheldon Souray, but the team hasn't missed a beat thanks to the emergence of rookie Hampus Lindholm and veteran Mark Fistric.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau admitted there will be a feeling-out process with Sbisa.

"It's almost going to be like, quite frankly, his first couple of games," Boudreau said. "He hasn't played much. Here's a guy who's been a top-four defenseman for the last three years and he's only played nine games for us. What I'm expecting is a little nervousness, but I'm thinking [he's] somebody [who] will play really hard and wants to get back in and be a regular."

Fistric has played well and Boudreau has the confidence to go back to him. Sbisa is aware he has to be effective right away because it's difficult to crack the lineup.

"It's not an easy task," he said. "I pretty much have no choice but to play good right off the bat. I haven't played many games this year. The guys are close to the 50-game mark. I've just got to play good right away."

Minnesota's lineup likely will be the same as it was from a 3-2 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

Mike Rupp skated on the fourth line but Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said it will be a game-time decision between Rupp and Jason Zucker.

Yeo said he'd also like to see the team's power play get back on track. It's 0-for-21 in the past eight games.

"We need a goal, for sure," Yeo said. "But at the same time we have to be going in all aspects of our game. Special teams is always crucial and these guys [the Ducks] do a great job 5-on-5. But special teams has cost us a lot of games in this building."

Here are the expected lineups for both teams:


Zach Parise - Charlie Coyle - Nino Niederreiter

Dany Heatley - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Erik Haula - Torrey Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Keith Ballard - Clayton Stoner

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Jason Zucker, Stephane Veilleux

Injured: Mikko Koivu (ankle), Jared Spurgeon (foot), Josh Harding (illness)


Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Kyle Palmieri - Saku Koivu - Andrew Cogliano

Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Jakob Silfverberg

Patrick Maroon - Mathieu Perreault - Teemu Selanne

Luca Sbisa - Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy

Hampus Lindholm - Bryan Allen

Jonas Hiller

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Daniel Winnik, Mark Fistric, Tim Jackman

Injured: Sheldon Souray (wrist), Viktor Fasth (lower body inflammation)

Notes: Hiller was first off the ice and will make his first start since a 36-save shutout in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium. … Jackman and Winnik stayed out as extras. Koivu and Getzlaf did not skate but are expected to play.

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