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Chris Wagner earns trust on the Ducks' fourth line

The road to breaking into the Ducks' lineup has had so many potholes for Chris Wagner, it's understandable that he doesn't want to stare too far down it.

He has been on waivers twice, as recently as November, just seven months after he signed a two-year contract extension. He played out of position early this season and was sent to the minors for two months.

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But, like the Ducks, Wagner has found his identity. He has played 12 of the past 13 games and earned back some trust as a fourth-line energy player. Presumably, that will continue Thursday at Winnipeg against the Jets as the Ducks are unlikely to change a lineup that has gone 7-0-1 in the past eight games.

"It can change day-to-day, so I'm not going to say much about that," Wagner said. Wagner then acknowledged that he has a better mind-set after a string of effective, physical games, mostly with Nate Thompson as his center.

His recent highlights include huge hits on St. Louis Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson and Winnipeg wing Joel Armia.

"I think I'm probably a little more relaxed than I was at the beginning of the year," Wagner said. "[I've had] a couple of stints, up and down. But I'm trying to make a few more plays and obviously still be physical when I can be.

"Playing a couple more minutes helps. It always helps when you're in consecutive games. It's all about earning the ice time doing what we can do to control that."

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said they did Wagner an injustice by making him play center earlier this season. His move back to wing is more his speed.

"He's made an impact," Carlyle said. "He's gone out and done his job. He's been physical. He's been a staunch penalty killer, and he's blocked shots."

Etc.

Ryan Getzlaf (lower-body injury) remains day-to-day, a team spokesman said. … Carlyle told reporters Tuesday that he's inclined to stick with goalie Jonathan Bernier, but John Gibson is expected to start at some point on the trip. Bernier is 9-0-1 in his last 10 starts and 2-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average in two games against Winnipeg this season. … The Ducks recalled left wing Ondrej Kase from the San Diego Gulls. Kase, 21, has played in 51 games with the Ducks this season, recording five goals and 14 points.

NEXT UP

DUCKS AT WINNIPEG JETS

When: Thursday, 5 p.m. PDT.

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

Update: Jets wing Patrik Laine is chasing Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the rookie scoring title. Laine has 34 goals to Matthews' 35.

sports@latimes.com

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