Ducks remain a wounded group as training camp opens – Daily News

0
17



ANAHEIM — The emotional pain endured by the Ducks to end last season has subsided but the physical pain continues to linger as another one begins.

A beaten-up bunch by the time their chase for a Stanley Cup ended with a Game 6 loss to Nashville in the Western Conference finals, the Ducks must deal with being shorthanded from the first day of training camp into the new season.

In the case of do-everything shutdown center Ryan Kesler, it will be well into the season. It could be three full months before the Selke Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top defensive forward makes his first appearance in a game.

As camp opened Friday at Anaheim Ice, Ducks general manager Bob Murray laid out what he hoped for as Kesler works his way back from hip surgery done by Dr. Marc Philippon, a noted specialist, on June 8 in Vail, Colo.

“As of right now there is no timeline whatsoever with Ryan Kesler,” Murray said. “Basically he had to play the second half of last year with no … couldn’t skate. He couldn’t push off his right leg whatsoever. So he’s got to rebuild his total glute, quad, everything. And that’s what we’re in the process of doing right now.

“So I’m hopeful to have him back before Christmas but that’s all I’m going to say for right now. We’ll see. You know how Kes is. He’s pushing it pretty good. But we’re also pushing back and just taking our time.”

The Ducks took the first step toward filling that massive hole in the middle by revisiting an option they’ve often tried. Rickard Rakell was at center during the team’s first official workout and Ducks center Randy Carlyle said the high-scoring forward will play there throughout the preseason.

Rakell flourished on left wing last season as his career-high 33 goals led the Ducks. Carlyle discussed the plan with him over the summer and he knows he’ll have to be a more complete player in the middle of the ice.

“I feel like I can be a better hockey player than I was last year,” Rakell said. “I scored a lot of goals and I don’t want to take anything away from that. I still feel I can make more plays and create a lot more space for myself and my teammates more.”

In addition to more faceoffs – a problem area for Rakell since entering the NHL – and added defensive responsibilities, Carlyle envisions Rakell eating up some of the penalty-killing duties that Kesler shoulders. What Rakell sees is not trying to be Ryan Kesler.

“I’m just trying to do my best at that position,” Rakell said. “It’s tough to replace him. I’m not going to try to play his game. I’m just going to try to play like myself and just do as good as I can.”

Kesler isn’t the only big name on the shelf. Now they’ll also deal without top defenders Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen are coming back from shoulder surgeries and Murray said the plan is to have both ready by Nov. 1.

But that means Cam Fowler will be leaned on more, as well as Josh Manson, Kevin Bieksa and Francois Beauchemin. “We’re going to cover the slack of some pretty good players,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said.

Brandon Montour, who’s looking to play his first full season after impressing as a rookie, also sees a potential increase with his role.

“Obviously I’m up for the task,” Montour said. “I’m just up for whatever they decide, right? When I hear my name get called I’m going to be out there and be ready to go.

“Those guys are two key parts of our team. It kind of (stinks) having those guys out. But we’re going to battle obviously with what we’ve got. We’ll be fine.”

The Ducks ended last season without Rakell, lead goalie John Gibson and 32-goal scorer Patrick Eaves for their Game 6 defeat. But those three are at full strength and set to open the year on time.

That’s particularly important for Gibson, whose push toward elite status has been interrupted by stints on the training table. Hampered in the past by groin, hip and hamstring injuries, Gibson traveled to Vancouver over the summer to consult experts on ways he can avoid those issues and stay on the ice.

“I think I just got more of a plan and more of a regimen in place throughout the year that I can follow,” Gibson said. “Talked to a couple different people and I feel like it’s going to help me throughout the year.”

For him to realize his full potential, Gibson has to be available for duty. Especially the most important games the Ducks will play.

“He’s got to eliminate that,” Murray said of his goalie’s injury bug. “That’s got to be eliminated from his game. He knows that. That’s why he pushed this. He pushed going there. He knows that can’t continue if he wants to be a No. 1 goaltender. He knows.”

LARSSON AILING

With one potential opening in the defense, Jacob Larsson could conceivably fill it with a strong camp. But the Ducks’ top blue-line prospect is coming back from MCL surgery in April and now has swelling in his knee after playing in last weekend’s Prospect Showcase in San Jose.

Murray believes it won’t impact Larsson’s ability to play in preseason games and challenge for a roster spot.

“We’re hoping it doesn’t at this point. We don’t think that’s going to affect that,” Murray said. “But we are going to go slow here in the first week and a half.”

Carlyle said Marcus Pettersson, Andy Welinski and Josh Mahura will also get a long look from the coaching staff.



All Credit Goes To : Source link

Comments

comments

SHARE