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James Wisniewski joins the Ducks for practice, but his gear is delayed

Defenseman James Wisniewski joins the Ducks just in time for three road games with playoff implications

James Wisniewski's left foot is feeling "great," but as for the personal equipment he needs to play hockey, it didn't arrive in Anaheim on Sunday before the team left to board a flight to Vancouver for a three-game trip.

"All brand new stuff. I don't have my sticks. I don't have anything. It's all in Memphis," Wisniewski said Sunday after the Ducks practiced at Honda Center.

The defenseman, who was the most high-profile acquisition in six Anaheim trades before last week's trading deadline, suffered a left foot bone bruise in his final game with the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 1.

In Sunday's practice, the powerful right-handed shooter skated and shifted freely on the foot.

Wisniewski said he was told "storms" have delayed the arrival of the gear. He practiced with teammate Ryan Kesler's sticks Sunday, but said they're too "flexy, really whippy" compared to his.

"I'll play, but it's an issue," Wisniewski said. "I'm worried about having stuff I'm not used to. And then I get judged by it. At least my foot feels good."

Wisniewski said he's been told the final chance to get his equipment in time is if the weather allows a shipment that can arrive at Honda Center by Monday morning. From there, General Manager Bob Murray, who's scheduled to fly to Vancouver on Monday, will bring it north with him.

"I'll give him a big hug and kiss if he did that for me," Wisniewski said of the gruff Murray. "If it doesn't get to Vancouver, I won't have it until Minnesota [for Friday's game], because of Customs."

More on health

In addition to Wisniewski, defensemen Sami Vatanen (unspecified lower-body injury) and Korbinian Holzer (nose) and forward Matt Beleskey (shoulder) practiced Sunday and will each accompany the team on the trip.

The Ducks demoted forward Chris Wagner to minor league Norfolk (Va.) on Sunday to clear a roster spot.

Beleskey hasn't been cleared for contact yet, and Vatanen said he's practicing "with no pain, so I should be coming back soon."

Holzer, formerly of the Toronto Maple Leafs, expects to be cleared to play before Monday's game. A penalty killing specialist, he practiced alongside Cam Fowler on Sunday.

Earning playing time for the Western Conference points leader "is definitely a challenge," Holzer said. "Work hard every day in practice, and if you get the chance to play, prove you can help the team win, and give the coach no choice."

Packing up

The Ducks (42-18-7) venture to three Western Conference teams in playoff position on this week's journey, Ryan Getzlaf saying the "playoff atmosphere" is evident with 15 regular-season games remaining.

"We're catching teams in a real good state of urgency, playing their best, and it's up to us to match their level," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If we can succeed against them now, we can succeed against them in the playoffs."

Turning power on

Wisniewski said it's "mind-blowing" that the Ducks' power play unit is 23rd in the NHL, with the assemblage of talent he'll join. He skated Sunday on the first unit with Kesler, Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Fowler.

The team devoted much attention to special teams Sunday at a full, extended practice. Boudreau said it's crucial to sharpen the power play because "in the playoffs, it can win you games."

"Last year in the first round, we had seven goals — led the NHL — after a mediocre year on the power play."

TONIGHT

AT VANCOUVER

When: 7 p.m.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 830.

Etc.: The second-place Canucks are 13 points behind the Ducks in the Pacific Division, led by forward Radim Vrbata (25 goals, 28 points). Anaheim's push to improve its power play meets the NHL's fourth-best penalty-killing team.

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