Upper-body injury may finally force Ducks’ Josh Manson out of the lineup
When a speedy forward dares streak into the Ducks’ zone, he must account for Josh Manson, who’s been a physical presence all season.
The 26-year-old Manson is the only Ducks player to suit up in all 73 games, and even a skate blade to the face wasn’t enough to keep him out of the lineup.
But Manson might finally be forced to watch from the press box as the Ducks gear up for their last road swing of the regular season, one that could decide their playoff fate.
Manson suffered an upper-body injury Sunday in a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils, and he missed practice Tuesday.
He traveled with the Ducks for their game Wednesday against the Calgary Flames, but the top-four defenseman’s availability is uncertain.
“He’ll be a day-to-day decision on how he feels in the morning and where his ailment [stands] and how close he is to playing,” said coach Randy Carlyle, adding that the staff won’t be able to gauge Manson’s readiness until he joins the team’s skate.
If Manson is unable to go, rookie Marcus Pettersson could be pressed into major minutes during a playoff push just 13 games into his NHL career.
The 21-year-old Swede made his NHL debut last month, and now with Kevin Bieksa sidelined following hand surgery, Pettersson figures to play in all nine of the Ducks’ remaining games.
Slowly but surely, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound defenseman is finding his confidence. He delivered a crushing open-ice blow on Devils center Blake Coleman that ignited the Ducks, and he earned his first career NHL assist moments later.
“It set the tone for myself as well,” said Pettersson, who is playing on the team’s second power-play unit. “I think a little bit [of the nerves] is gone, but it’s still there, like every game is so big right now. So I think it’s there all the time.”
When Manson went down in the first period, it was Pettersson who picked up his minutes, and he rose to the occasion. “You kind of feed off that” confidence from the coaches, he said.
He’s been tentative at times this season, but the comfort level is starting to find him.
“I feel like every time I think like that, I play a bad game, so I try as much as possible not to think too much out there and just trust my instincts and play my game,” Pettersson said.
“And as soon as I start thinking, I start making slow decisions and I’m slow with the puck and that’s when I get beaten and get smothered.”
Pettersson isn’t the only rookie defenseman for the Ducks. The team recalled Andy Welinski from the club’s minor league affiliate in San Diego on Tuesday.
Welinski made his NHL debut in December, but he played in just four games before he was returned to the AHL.
If Manson misses any action, the 24-year-old Welinski could be back in the lineup.
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. PDT.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 830.
Update: Calgary is one of the clubs the Ducks must contend with for the final playoff spots, but the gap is widening. The Flames lost three straight games, and they sit six points behind Anaheim and have played one more game. … The Ducks signed left winger Kiefer Sherwood to a two-year entry level contract Tuesday. The 22-year-old had 30 points in 36 games with Miami of Ohio this season.
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