Ducks' deep bench to seat Cam Fowler, Frederik Andersen

Ducks' deep bench to seat Cam Fowler, Frederik Andersen
Cam Fowler takes a shot against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 6. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The wealth of talent on the Ducks’ roster is a key reason they lead the Western Conference in points before Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But it also creates tough playing-time issues for Anaheim Coach Bruce Boudreau, who on Tuesday appeared ready to scratch both defenseman Cam Fowler and 31-game-winning goalie Frederik Andersen.

Fowler remained on the Columbus ice for an extended period Tuesday, a sign he’ll be benched, while defenseman Simon Despres came to the dressing room early, an indicator he’ll play after being scratched in Sunday’s 7-2 road loss against the New York Rangers.

In that game, Fowler was minus-three.


The defenseman with seven goals and 31 points has previously missed only one other game this season.

The Ducks (46-21-7) already had a wide lead in the Pacific Division when General Manager Bob Murray made six trades before the trade deadline earlier this month.

"Obviously, hindsight being what it is, you'd love to go over every game and see if you hadn't changed your mind it wouldn't be that much different, but I try not to live too much in the past," Boudreau said.

In the New York game, he sat Despres despite the acquisition playing solidly, with three assists during a four-game winning streak.

Too much depth can be "not a luxury because you want to keep your defense pairings set, and because you want to keep everyone active," Boudreau said. "You present it to [the scratched player that] we're all about the betterment of the team."

Boudreau has also shifted second-line forward Jakob Silfverberg to the fourth line after the leg injury to grinding forward Tim Jackman.

He said Tuesday that “by the time we get home” from the current road trip, which would start with an April 1 home game against the Edmonton Oilers, he’d like to set his lineup with the NHL playoffs beginning the week of April 12.

Boudreau said adjustments with most forwards will ease the players getting "reacclimated" with whoever they'll play with.

Silfverberg, with a career-best 12 goals and 35 points, said his shifting hasn't stopped him from "playing the same way."

“I try to do what I’m good at, I try to play the same -- work hard on both ends, shoot the puck,” Silfverberg said. “Try not to complicate it. Yes, we’ve switched lines, but I think playing with [Andrew] Cogliano and [Nate] Thompson, I’m playing pretty good. Work hard, you’ll get chances.

"Our team, as a whole, is a good group, and that depth makes us successful.

"It's up to Bruce. It might be good to tighten things up, set the lines, as we get closer to the playoffs, but I don't mind."

NOW IN NET: Gibson left the Columbus ice first, indicating he'll get the start in a return from a relief performance Sunday in which he gave up four goals on 22 shots.

Gibson entered with a 3-1 deficit, and had he been able to shut down the Rangers it would have been the 21-year-old's boldest act yet to show he deserves the first playoff assignment despite Andersen's heavier workload this season.

"It's in the past, not happy with it, but new day," Gibson said. "None of us really want to talk about it anymore. It's a game where we've got to learn from it and hope it doesn't happen again."

Boudreau on Monday half-joked that he didn't want another goalie controversy, but he's clearly hoping Gibson or Andersen can once and for all step up and help make the Game 1 choice easier before the playoffs begin.

Gibson referred to an expectation that both goalies will be used in the postseason.

"Every time I get opportunities, I try to help the team win," Gibson said. "Freddie and I try our best to support each other. I think we're doing a great job pushing each other, and we'll push each other in the playoffs."