Center Shows His Nasty Side

Times Staff Writer

There is a little more oomph to center Marc Chouinard’s game this season.

Chouinard has exceptional skill in the faceoff circle and as a penalty killer. He even has the offensive savvy to chip in a goal here and there while centering the Ducks’ fourth line.

The one area where he had been lacking was nastiness. But there has been a noticeable change in his willingness to throw around his lanky, 6-foot-5, 218-pound frame this season.

“He’s more physical and we want him to be a lot more physical,” Coach Mike Babcock said. “On a journey of 10 miles, we think he’s on Lap 2.... It’s not how big you are, it’s how big you play.”


Chouinard, who usually is squeezed between Kevin Sawyer and Dan Bylsma on the fourth line, established himself last season as a reliable NHL center. He looked to improve on that this season.

“Obviously when you’re in the role I’m in, you have to hit,” Chouinard said.


Speaking of physical, Sawyer, the Duck enforcer, again showed his canny ability to draw a penalty Sunday. Sawyer duped Florida’s Peter Worrell into an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second period.

“Emotions were running high and there were a couple big hits that shift,” Sawyer said. “I kind of knew [Worrell] might be a little sensitive. I got in his face, he got in mine. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him drop him gloves. I kept my feet moving and drew the penalty.”


Center Adam Oates was medically cleared to play. He has been out since Oct. 24 with a broken left hand.