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Hockey

Cam Fowler and the Ducks continue to search for improvement, especially on offense

Cam Fowler, Boone Jenner
Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (4) tries to clear the puck under pressure from Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner, left, during a game Oct. 28 at Honda Center.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

One of the first assessments given by Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle during training camp was that his pupil, defenseman Cam Fowler, could reach another level and that he hasn’t reached his potential. Fowler laughed when asked whether Carlyle expressed that to him in the off-season.

“That’s the first time hearing that,” Fowler said.

There is probably more of an unspoken understanding between Fowler and Carlyle in their reuniting this season. Fowler vowed to improve over the off-season, mainly to gain confidence and have more of a shoot-first mentality.

It’s shown after the season’s quarter-pole mark. Fowler’s six goals are one short of his total in 69 games last year, and he’s well on pace to break his career high of 10 goals in his rookie season under Carlyle.

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Fowler took on more responsibility when the Ducks did not have Hampus Lindholm, but he’s also taken it upon himself. He leads Ducks defensemen with 44 shots and all Ducks players at nearly 24 minutes per game. 

The uptick in offense isn’t entirely because of Carlyle. Fowler said it was a misconception that former Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was “putting the reins on me. I just wasn’t producing offensively.” 

Fowler does cite his relationship with Carlyle as a factor.

“He’s been firm and strict with me but he’s always believed in me and had confidence in me,” Fowler said. “He coached me when I was real young in this league and I was just finding my way. I think it was exciting for both of us to be reconnected now with me having six seasons under my belt … he thinks I can be a premier defenseman in the league, and when your head coach believes that, it helps you, as a player, have that mind-set as well.”

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Fowler’s legs and offense alone aren’t enough for the Ducks as they look for their overall offensive identity. That’s not an ideal search with the Chicago Blackhawks here for the traditional Black Friday matinee between the teams.

“We’re not fast enough with the puck right now,” Carlyle said.

Carlyle hinted at non-optional skates to get more practice time, not as punishment but to grasp tempo. He knows his top players will get going.

“But when we don’t play well, it just seems that we’re burdened and we’re taxed to create any offense,” Carlyle said. “And that could be power play, it could be five-on-five [play]. Our mandate is to focus on the process, not the results right now.”

Shaw recalled

Logan Shaw could make his Ducks debut upon his recall from San Diego. He centered the fourth line with Ryan Garbutt and Chris Wagner in practice.

Shaw described himself as a two-way player, and he also brings some offense. He didn’t make the Florida Panthers out of training camp and saw his Nov. 16 trade to the Ducks with fresh eyes.

“It’s a new opportunity for me,” Shaw said. “I said everything happens for a reason and that’s what this is right now.”

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Etc.

Sami Vatanen said he’s recovered from flu. … Clayton Stoner and Joseph Cramarossa did not practice with the team. Both have lower-body injuries.

DUCKS NEXT UP

VS. CHICAGO

When: 1 p.m., Friday

On the air: TV: Prime; Radio: 830.

Update: Chicago’s Jonathan Toews (upper body) did not practice Thursday and is questionable, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Ducks are 0-3-1 in their last four day-after-Thanksgiving Day games against the Blackhawks, who have lost two straight games for the first time since they began the season 0-2.

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