Freeway Faceoff notes: Ducks & Kings breaking in new players
t’s as small of a sample size as they come, but both the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings will be attempting to work in new players in Friday night’s Freeway Faceoff series game at the Honda Center.
The Ducks had the benefit of already playing one game with new winger Jiri Sekac, but Sekac was all over the place on Wednesday night — starting on the second line with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg and seeing time on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
On Friday morning, he skated on the right side of the third line with Emerson Etem and Rickard Rakell.
"He’s going to come in and hopefully bring a little bit more skill to our game," said Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf. "Last game, I thought he did a good job coming in blind almost and being able to fit in and play our kind of style of game."
The Ducks have now had one game and one full practice with him, as well as two morning skates. He’s been briefed on the team’s system through video study and coach Bruce Boudreau doesn’t see a steep learning curve.
"We think Jiri is ready," he said. "It was a little bit of an adjustment in that last game because we never even had a practice with him and there was a lot of stuff we went over on videos. But, with that being the case, I think he’s integrating right now."
Andrej Sekera, the Kings’ new defenseman, hasn’t yet practiced with the entire team since Friday’s morning skate at the Honda Center was optional. However, he’s not completely flying blind, having a familiar skating partner in Robyn Regehr. The two were paired together in Buffalo in parts of the 2011-2012 season.
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 26, 2015
"We rotated things a lot that season so it was a little weird, but we played together for a little bit of time out there," he said. "We kept the game simple, nothing crazy. Move the puck, give the puck to the forwards so they can do their job."
The move to pair Sekera with Regehr reunites the top pairing of Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin. Jamie McBain was the extra d-man in the morning skate, putting Matt Greene with Brayden McNabb.
The Ducks sent Jason LaBarbera, who did not see any game action during this last stint with the big club, back to the AHL Friday morning ,indicating that the Ducks’ No. 1 goaltender in Frederik Andersen is ready to play again. The Ducks aren’t likely to use him Friday night, as Boudreau has given John Gibson the green light to start his eighth-straight game and make his ninth-straight appearance.
"I don’t know whether he will play (on the next road trip) or not, but he’s backing up tonight," Boudreau said. "(Gibson) has gotten better and better and hopefully, he’ll stay up to that standard. If he can keep teams to one or two goals, it’s up to us to score. He could stop 60, but if we don’t score a goal we won’t win the game."
The Ducks, who were shutout by Ottawa on Wednesday night, may soon receive help from their second-leading goal-scorer in Matt Beleskey (21 goals). It won’t be tonight, but Beleskey, who has sat out the last five games, is confident that he’ll be back soon from his shoulder injury.
With the Ducks’ 10-point lead in the Pacific Division, he has the luxury of waiting it out until he is 100 percent ready.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) February 27, 2015
"I’ve skated a few days now, I’m starting to handle pucks, I shot a couple pucks out there today. So it’s going as it should," he said. "I don’t want to come back and have a nagging injury during the playoffs. We’ve talked about this, with the training staff, and I want to come back and be fully ready to go with no hesitation in hitting or anything like that."
The Kings announced on Thursday that defenseman Alec Martinez was placed on IR the day before and have provided no updates.