By Kyle Shohara
Excitement was in the air as the Ducks took part in their morning skate at Honda Center, prior to tonight’s Home Opener against the New York Rangers.
But, head coach Bruce Boudreau knows his club is facing a Rangers squad out for redemption after getting dominated in a 9-2 loss in San Jose two nights ago.
“It scares the crap out of me,” he said. “You just look at this past week. We lose 6-1 and we come back and have a 2-0 lead after the first period. The Rangers beat the Kings, and last night the Kings have a 3-0 lead after the first period. The teams in this league have a lot of pride. They’ll be pushing hard. I don’t know what to expect, but I know they’ll be as good as they’ll possibly be.”
There is good news on the Ducks front, as forward Emerson Etem is set to make his regular season debut tonight. The speedy forward has yet to see game action since suffering a lower-body injury during a preseason game in San Jose on September 20.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store,” Etem said about his season debut and first home opener. Etem has spent the last couple weeks watching the games on television and said that has allowed him to see where he can find more time and space on the ice.
“Knowing me, he could be on one line on one minute and another line the next minute,” Boudreau said. “A lot will be determined with how the game goes. If we’re going well, I’ll keep things the same. But, if things aren’t going in our direction, we’ll move people around. That’s one thing about our team. We have a lot of interchangeable parts up front.”
One thing is for certain: Dustin Penner will start tonight’s game on the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Penner, signed in the offseason as a free agent, skated with Perry and Getzlaf throughout training camp, but will make his regular season top-line debut tonight. Penner has appeared in Anaheim’s last two games after being a healthy scratch in the team’s first game in Colorado. Through two games, Penner has one point (assist) and a team-best +3 rating.
“We feel he’s ready to play there,” Boudreau said. “He was the guy we signed to be in that position, and we feel he’s ready now. He’s done a lot by himself. I don’t think he liked sitting out or doing a lot of extra skating. He’s worked really hard to get where he is. Hopefully, he’ll play really well tonight.”
Matt Beleskey has an upper-body injury “that’ll probably keep him out a week or so,” said Boudreau.
Kyle Palmieri, who also has an upper-body injury, skated this morning and said this isn't similar to the concussion he had last year.
NASH BACK TO NYC
Rangers forward Rick Nash will not be in tonight's lineup after being elbowed by Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart on Tuesday. Nash has since flown back to New York. Stuart received a three-game suspension for the hit.
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