Last Stop Before Europe
Friday, 09.30.2011 / 11:52 AM PT
It's the final home preseason game for the Ducks, a rematch with the rival (suddenly Doughtyful) Kings, but for some Ducks it's a little more than that.
Tonight could determine whether their next flight requires a passport or not.
The Ducks, after having reassigned defenseman Bryan Rodney to Syracuse this morning, have 27 players on their training camp roster. That becomes 26 if they reassign Patrick Maroon, who was put on waivers today. How many the Ducks plan to take on that charter remains to be seen, but they are presumably carrying all three goalies (Hiller, Ellis and Deslauriers) and a couple of guys who haven't played in the preseason yet in Matt Beleskey and Toni Lydman (both recovering from shoulder surgeries). Beleskey appears to be closer to playing that Lydman, as he has been cleared from contact and there was talk about him debuting tonight against the Kings. Lydman figures to be on the trip whether he's ready to play in Europe or not, since he'll be returning to his homeland, just like Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. Another defenseman, Kurtis Foster, isn't ready to go yet after having a wire removed from his thigh, but he did skate yesterday on his own for the first time since that surgery a week and a half ago.
Most of the Ducks are on that charter to Europe, but there are a few guys who might be auditioning tonight for one final look on that opening night roster. (That roster has to be cut down to 24 by the October 5 deadline.)
Here's some video on that topic, including more from the likeable Andrew Gordon, who says, "I was talking to Bobby earlier and said It feels like I have one game to sort of prove myself, a one-game tryout from here on out. If I was told a month ago that I'd have one game to impress and get on that plane to Europe, I'd take that any day."
The Ducks tonight face Kings team that the Ducks beat last Sunday night in LA while suiting up a prospect-heavy team against a Kings one made up mostly of regulars (can't mention this often enough). Tonight both teams figure to have their October-type lineups in there, though the Kings will probably be without the aforementioned Drew Doughty, who just signed an eight-year, $56 million contract yesterday. Doughty headed to LA from London, Ontario (where he was working out) today, and mentioned tomorrow (against the Avs at home) as a possibility when he talked to reporters yesterday.
Tonight marks the last time you'll be able to see the Ducks in person in two weeks, as they flight out tomorrow morning for Finland, where they'll play an exhibition against Jokerit on Tuesday and then open the regular season Friday morning (I can taste the mimosas already) against Buffalo in Helsinki. Speaking of that Euro trip, Randy Carlyle compared it yesterday to the one the then-defending champions took in 2007 to London, pointing out why this one is much more palatable to the Ducks schedule-wise.
On that trip, the Ducks played back-to-backs against the Kings in London, then three days later faced the Red Wings, Blue Jackets and Penguins in a span of four days -- all home openers for those teams and all Ducks losses.
“We got demoralized in the [Pittsburgh] game,” Carlyle said. “That was a choice we made at that time, which was, looking back on it was very very … What would the word be? Ill-founded?"
This time, the Ducks get home early on Sunday the ninth, and don't play again until opening against the Sharks at home on October 14.
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One last thing, if you didn't see the very cool RPG video yesterday by rollingdux, here it is again.