A game against the Chicago Blackhawks would've meant something different to Josh Manson a month ago.
Manson, a 23-year-old rookie defenseman who's played 11 NHL games, has averaged more than 20 minutes of ice time in the last eight games, helping an injury-depleted unit.
"He's definitely come in and done better than what we thought. His learning curve is a lot faster," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You don't expect first-year guys out of juniors to be so poised, and it's been a real blessing."
Boudreau credited some of that to Manson being around his father, Dave Manson, who played from 1986 to 2002, including seven seasons with the Blackhawks. Josh Manson was recalled by the Ducks on their Oct. 28 visit to Chicago but was a healthy scratch.
"Everything could've come full circle — my dad being drafted there, that's where I was born — but it's a good test [Friday], more than it being about that's where my dad played," Manson said. "They have some good players over there.
"Getting settled in here, figuring out what kind of game I can play … now instead of thinking about Chicago, I can think about my game and what I can do to stick around here as long as I can."
Sidelined until Nov. 16 with a high ankle sprain, Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri has returned with three goals in his first five games.
"He came to camp with a lot of confidence," Boudreau said. "Knowing that spot on the second line was his.… Every game, he's playing better, his ankle is getting better and he's becoming more familiar with [second-line center] Ryan Kesler. All those things are good."
DUCKS VS. CHICAGO
When: 1 p.m. Friday
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket. Radio: 830.
Etc.: The Blackhawks improved to 3-1 on their current trip Wednesday in Colorado, as forward Patrick Kane had two assists and Jonathan Toews scored a goal. On Oct. 28, the Ducks won at Chicago, 1-0.