Jhonas Enroth has been with the Ducks for so long that he's had time to grow out his beard, trim it and grow it back.
Such is the untidy existence of a backup goalie, although backups do play every now and then. Enroth is still waiting to make his Ducks debut, one that may be a long time in coming given Jonathan Bernier's hold on the job and John Gibson's participating in a full practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury.
Enroth has adhered to a professional routine of staying ready … and staying ready … and staying ready. His last game was Feb.18, for the San Diego Gulls.
"It's been over a month [but] it doesn't really feel that way," he said. "I'm just trying to focus on staying sharp in practice. That's really what I'm trying to do."
Enroth took a moment to think about the gap and said, "It's a long time. It might be the longest I've gone without a game. I'm not sure."
An eight-year veteran, Enroth is just thankful for some stability in a turbulent season in which he was waived by the Toronto Maple Leafs and traded to the Ducks in January.
"[The season's] first half is probably the worst time of my life," he said. "Up in Toronto, I didn't really find my groove up there. It was definitely a tough first half. When I was traded, I was very excited and was even really looking forward to going to San Diego."
His eagerness was evident. With the Gulls in January, Enroth was 6-0 with a 1.17 goals-against average.
"I think just change of scenery helped a lot," he said. "I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I could play. I was very excited to just go there and play a lot of games."
Enroth probably will return to the Gulls when Gibson is available. When that will be remains unclear, but Coach Randy Carlyle said that Gibson's participation Thursday was a positive sign. Gibson was re-injured March 10.
"This has taken a lot longer than first expected," Carlyle said. "Anything here now is a bonus."
Carlyle indicated that Gibson would be back before the regular-season finale April 9.
"That's never been out of the question," he said. "He's going to play."
Carlyle was largely diplomatic when asked about a string of non-calls against the Ducks in their last two games.
Corey Perry was hit with a high stick at San Jose last Saturday and Kevin Bieksa was a victim of the same Wednesday, but neither drew a penalty. Moreover, a late goal by the Edmonton Oilers was upheld upon review Wednesday after replays appeared to show the Oilers were offside on the entry. On the other side, the Ducks have the third-most minor penalties in the NHL.
"That's a challenge for our group," Carlyle said, "and it's an ongoing battle."
Carlyle said that officials have a difficult job in making split-second decisions and that the NHL's review center does not have access to the same replay angles available in arenas. That was the case, he said, on the offside review.
"I try to cut them some slack," Carlyle said of officials, "but it is disheartening when you feel that, consistently, things are not going your way, as far as the calls. But that's sports. That's the human side of it, and I always let the league deal with our situations and respect their decisions because, in reality, we can't change very much once the call is made."
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
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