There were quite a few changes at today’s Ducks practice with the shuffling of personnel that resulted from injuries and a suspension. To start, goalie Justin Pogge was sent back to the ECHL as J.S. Giguere was cleared for full practice and game action. Giguere was surprisingly on the Ducks bench in Wednesday’s game after he had left practice early they day before, and Pogge was recalled but sent back just before the start of that game. I would look for Giguere to get the start in Saturday’s game.
And if Ducks fans didn’t notice last game, and they probably didn’t since he only plays about eight minutes per game, fourth line center Ryan Carter was missing from the lineup. Carter was struck in the foot with a shot in Wednesday’s practice that resulted in a bone bruise, which isn’t too serious. His MRI results showed no fracture but Coach Randy Carlyle said he would not be available for at least a week.
The injury to Carter resulted in the need for another forward and the Ducks promptly called up Matt Beleskey from the AHL. Beleskey played well in the AHL last season but is off to a slow start this year with just one goal and two assists in eight games with the San Antonio Rampage. Beleskey was skating on the third line in practice.
With Evgeny Artyukhin serving his suspension, which you can read about here if you missed it, the Ducks needed to make a few changes to the third and fourth lines. With Beleskey skating on the third line with Todd Marchant and Petteri Nokelainen, Erik Christensen was demoted to the fourth line alongside Mike Brown and George Parros. It also looks like Carlyle will continue to keep Joffrey Lupul on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, with Bobby Ryan skating alongside Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne.
It’s very unfortunate that the only line that played consistently well for the Ducks, the fourth line, has to be altered because of an injury. As much as I might joke about the line playing only eight minutes per game, the truth is that those eight minutes are the best eight minutes the Ducks have played in recent games. But now the only consistent line the Ducks had is worse off with Christensen, an “offensive” forward, playing on it. Not that I hate Christensen, but he is not a fourth line player. He needs to play on the top two lines or not at all, and I happen to prefer not at all.