Ducks' Ben Lovejoy compares return from injury to 'Christmas morning'

Ducks' Ben Lovejoy compares return from injury to 'Christmas morning'
Ben Lovejoy says he will return to game action Friday in Edmonton after missing 21 games with a fractured finger. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said he would return to game action Friday night in Edmonton, 21 games after fracturing his finger when he punched San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski on Oct. 26.

"It's been a long 45 days, excited to be back as part of the team and back on the ice," Lovejoy said after being cleared following an X-ray. "You can't tough out broken bones. They're either healed or not."


Lovejoy skated with usual top defensive pair mate Cam Fowler at Friday's morning skate. The Ducks (19-6-5) have won five consecutive games entering Friday's 6:30 p.m. game against the last-place Edmonton Oilers.

"I'm sure I'll have a ton of adrenaline, I already do; I was up periodically throughout the night. It was like a little kid on Christmas morning," Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy added, "My days as a goon are probably done."

He said overcoming the fracture was more difficult than maintaining his conditioning.

"The fine motor skills of playing hockey -- the touch passes behind the net, playing in traffic -- that's all a bit different," he said. "I'm sure it won't be perfect, but hopefully the positives of my game outweigh the rustiness."

Andersen first off: Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen is expected to play his 17th consecutive game after leaving the ice first at Friday's skate.

Backup goalie Jason LaBarbera was activated Thursday after recovering from a broken bone in his hand, but Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said LaBarbera won't be rushed right into a start even if Andersen could use a break.

"[LaBarbera] hasn't practiced," Boudreau said. "We'll see how tonight goes before we make a decision on [Saturday's game in Winnipeg]. Freddie has played a lot of games in a row. At some point, he's going to need a rest."

The Ducks this week signed veteran goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, but he's expected to play Friday and Saturday in minor-league Norfolk, Va., before possibly rejoining the NHL team that drafted him in 2000 and that he helped claim the Stanley Cup in 2007.

Friday's lines were: Devante Smith-Pelly/Ryan Getzlaf/Rene Bourque, Matt Beleskey/Ryan Kesler/Kyle Palmieri, Andrew Cogliano/Rickard Rakell/Jakob Silfverberg and Patrick Maroon/Nate Thompson/Tim Jackman.

The defensive pairs were Lovejoy/Fowler, Hampus Lindholm/ColbyRobak and Sami Vatanen/Clayton Stoner.

Beauchemin skates: Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin, out since suffering a broken finger while blocking a shot on Nov. 25, skated with the team Friday.

He's "trying to get better. I don't know how close, but closer, probably an outside chance he can play on this trip," Boudreau said of the five-game road trip that  starts Friday and ends Dec. 19 in Ottawa. "We want to keep him skating. Beauch has always been one of those guys who's come back quicker than he was supposed to."

Fasth moving on: Traded from the Ducks on March 5 due to Anaheim's glut of goaltending talent, Edmonton goalie Viktor Fasth said he's noticed, but not obsessed on, his old team's goalie void behind Andersen with injuries slowing LaBarbera and fellow backup John Gibson (groin).


"I haven't thought about it like [what might have been had the Ducks kept Fasth]," he said. "Injuries happen. I got traded. That's history. I enjoy it here, try to do my best for the team here."

Fasth was first off the ice Friday and should start again after stopping 32 shots in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Ducks at Honda Center.