First, the easy stuff.
According to Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, defenseman Sami Vatanen -- almost ready to return from a knee injury -- won’t play against the Canucks Monday night at Rogers Arena. Nor will left wing Matt Beleskey, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury. And Frederik Andersen will start in goal after losing his last start, a 5-2 loss to the Penguins last Friday.
But after that, the Ducks’ lineup gets a little unpredictable.
Defenseman Korbinian Holzer, acquired March 2 from Toronto, might play but only if James Wisniewski can’t. However, Wisniewski, acquired March 2 from Columbus for his second stint with the Ducks, is likely to play if his equipment finally catches up with him.
Wisniewski, no longer troubled by a bruised foot he suffered in his last game before the trade, is most concerned about getting the custom knee brace he has worn since undergoing three ACL operations on his right knee. He said he wouldn’t feel comfortable playing without it and also would like to get his own skates after practicing in skates “that feel weird” for the last few days.
Ah, but help might be on the way. Instead of shipping the gear directly to Canada and risking having it be held up in Customs formalities, it was delivered to the home of Ducks General Manager Bob Murray, who was scheduled to bring it with him to Vancouver Monday afternoon. That should earn Murray a nice tip.
“I think so,” Wisniewski said, laughing. “I guess it got to his house late [Sunday] night and hopefully it doesn’t get lost on that flight. Hopefully I’ll have it here by game time.
“This doesn’t happen very often but it is what it is. I’m just happy to be able to get on the ice, at least move my feet around. But I sure don’t feel comfortable.”
Wisniewski did get his sticks Monday after borrowing some from Ryan Kesler, and said he’s not worried about breaking in new shoulder pads, shin pads, pants and other necessities.
“I want to get out there,” he said. “I haven’t skated because of my foot injury. I want to have my equipment and get back into it. So now I hope my other equipment doesn’t feel weird because I haven’t been into that for a week. Just got to roll with the punches, I guess.”
He also said he talked to Boudreau about waiting another game to make his return. “We’re trying to win games and get the team rolling going into the playoffs but at the same time it’s not a necessity,” Wisniewski said. “The team has been playing great and I want to get out there with them, but that’s kind of a big issue making sure I feel comfortable and they feel comfortable and that sort of thing. But I’m told [there's a] 95% chance it will be here for tonight’s game.”
Blending new players into the lineup this late in the season isn’t easy. Andersen said he’s still becoming accustomed to teammates’ voices, which complicates communication, and that they’ve had to discuss his preferences when it comes to things like blocking shots and handling the puck.
“If you hear a voice you’re not used to, you won’t really, I don’t think you want to throw it in that direction because it might be an opponent,” Andersen said. “You’ve got to get used to a voice and different tendencies."
“We talk about different things we use, like when I play the puck and where I want it to be, and how I want them to talk to me. And as well, on two-on-ones, how I want the defensemen to play the puck or the shooter or the passer in different situations. It’s just about getting used to each other.”
Andersen also said he’s glad to get the assignment Monday to “get this rust shaken off completely” after having missed eight games because of a neck injury. This will be his third start since then; he’s 1-1.