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McDonald to Return as Winger Friday

Times Staff Writer

Mighty Duck center Andy McDonald has waited many stressful months for this, yet he can hardly wait a few more days.

McDonald has not played since Feb. 5 because of problems stemming from a concussion, but he will be back in the lineup -- as a winger -- against Ottawa on Friday.

“I’m really excited,” McDonald said. “This is up there probably with playing my first NHL game. This has been such a long road. Back last spring, I was questioning if I was ever going to be 100% again.”

McDonald played only four of the final 40 regular-season games and sat out the playoffs after sustaining a concussion against Colorado on Jan. 9.

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The Ducks certainly can use him. At 5 feet 10, 185 pounds, McDonald hardly will be a physical presence on the ice, but his zip and gnat-like persistence annoy opposing players.

Whether he’s completely up to speed, though, is to be seen.

“I feel pretty good,” said McDonald, who had 10 goals and 21 points in 46 games last season. “My conditioning is where I need it to be, and the strength is back. I imagine timing will take a little bit to get back. It is hard to mimic playing in a game situation.”

That break-in time will be helped by McDonald’s skating on a line with Sergei Fedorov and Petr Sykora.

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“Any time you play with skilled players like Petr and Sergei, their ability to move the puck makes it easy,” McDonald said. “You let the puck do the work. It’s just a matter of being in the right position.”

Playing the wing instead of his natural center position should help as well, he said.

“I probably would feel more comfortable at center, but I have played the wing before,” McDonald said. “I think it is probably good for me to start there in terms of responsibility. On the ice, the center man carries a lot of that load.”


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