ST. PAUL, Minn. — With center Isac Lundestrom being out for six weeks with a broken finger, you can expect the Ducks to experiment with a variety of line combinations.
In fact, there were two different looks in the first period against the Minnesota Wild. The Ducks started with Sam Carrick centering rookie Pavol Regenda and Jakob Silfverberg. But within the first eight minutes of the opening period, Ducks coach Dallas Eakins flipped Regenda and Derek Grant, moving Regenda up to the second line with center Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano, resulting in a quick goal by Strome.
Not only have the Ducks lost the first three games of this trip – gaining two points, an overtime and a shootout loss – but they’ve been beset by injuries. Lundestrom broke his finger when he blocked a shot in the Dallas game, and Grant was limited to one shift of 11 seconds in the third period, having suffered a lower-body injury against the Wild. The team is describing Grant’s injury as day-to-day.
Considering the Ducks have an afternoon game on Sunday in Winnipeg, in all likelihood they will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Jets. It would make more sense for any recall from AHL San Diego to come after the Ducks return to Southern California.
With Nathan Beaulieu drawing in, Colton White has been the extra defenseman the past two games. Ducks coach Dallas Eakins explained the reason behind that particular change.
“We’re trying to match it up,” Eakins said Friday after practice. “We don’t want to get pushed around in games either. That team (Dallas) was about as heavy as a team … and we’re going to see another one (the Wild) tomorrow.
“And we don’t want to be left in a gun fight with no guns.”
The Ducks routinely hold meetings before practices but their session on Friday seemed to last a bit longer than usual, not a surprise considering they were coming off a 5-0 loss on Thursday in Dallas.
“It gives a chance for everyone to be honest and upfront with each other about what’s going on,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “Good and bad. I think we have to make sure we keep communicating with each other and staying positive and not allowing ourselves to get too frustrated.
“We know the situation. We know we’re trying to crawl out of this thing. But it’s not going to happen in a minute or in 10 minutes. It’s going to take some time. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. For some of us older guys, just trying to make sure we’re keeping the right mindset coming in, setting an example on the ice and going from there.”