IRVINE, Calif. – Good Friday brought a nationwide day off for the NHL in terms of games. But the Ducks were on the ice for practice this afternoon, ahead of traveling to Arizona—where they’ll play the Coyotes tomorrow afternoon.
An extra day off may be just what the Ducks need, as they have a quick turnaround with another game on Sunday night at home against the Colorado Avalanche.
With John Gibson’s status for tomorrow up in the air because of the illness that kept him out of dressing for Wednesday’s game, three goaltenders were on the ice for practice with Olle Eriksson Ek recalled this morning.
Lukáš Dostál will likely start tomorrow if Gibson is unable to dress, but any appearance for Eriksson Ek would be his NHL debut. The Swede has struggled in the AHL this season, though so has most of the team. He sports a 2-14-0 record with a 0.852 SV% and 4.81 GAA.
Troy Terry will not travel to Arizona, just as he did on the team’s most recent road trip. The potential of an early birth still remains for him and his wife Dani. With this being the final road game of the season and playoff implications a forlong afterthought, one can’t question his decision. Family comes first.
Brock McGinn was not on the ice on Friday. He left Wednesday’s game in the early minutes of the second period and did not return. The Ducks later tweeted that he had an upper-body injury.
Even with Terry and McGinn unavailable, Anaheim still has two extra forwards. Adam Henrique made his return to the lineup on Wednesday after missing a month and a half with a sprained MCL and Nikita Nesterenko was back at practice today after missing out on Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday’s game due to illness.
Ryan Strome, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract with Anaheim this past offseason, will skate in his 700th game tomorrow.
“I think every time you get to (another) 100 (games), it’s a time to kind of reflect,” said Strome. “It’s a milestone, you know what I mean? I think that as a kid if you would have thought of 100 NHL games, you think it’s a lot. You push for 200, 300, 400, 500. I think now the goal is to get to 1,000.”
Strome has spent nearly a decade in the league after entering as a 20-year-old during the 2013-14 season with the New York Islanders.
“To say it’s been a decade is crazy because it goes by so fast,” he remarked. “I feel like I’m in a little bit of a different stage in my career now, but at the same time you’re always trying to get better and just (trying to) continue to improve.”
Strome is no stranger to high expectations after being drafted fifth overall in 2011 and playing in two Mecca hockey markets in Edmonton and New York. Still, the difference in media coverage and exposure playing in one of those markets compared to playing in Anaheim is night and day, especially in a season like this.
“It’s really different,” said Strome. “Especially even looking back 12 months (ago), this (time) was pretty much gearing up for playoffs and there were probably 10-15 media (members) in New York, so it’s definitely different.”
“At the same time though, I think I’m at the stage in my career where I’ve learned to manage those things and not really let them bother me or affect me in any way. I think I know what I need to do to continue to get better and try to be the best player that I can be. I think I learned how to handle those distractions, which was a positive for me in my career, but now it’s not really a distraction. It’s definitely different though, I think.”
Strome said that being an alternate captain for the Rangers last season meant he had to talk to the media a lot, especially down the stretch as playoffs approached.
“I think you realize the height and the pressure of how many eyes are on you. Those are great experiences and hopefully, in the next few years, we can build up to that (in Anaheim) and build up to a playoff run and get people excited about this team again. That’s kind of the goal for me.”