The Ducks Official Preview
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The Ducks close out their preseason with a matchup tonight against the Canucks, whom they defeated six days ago in Vancouver.
Ducks rookie Petteri Wirtanen scored two goals in that game, including the winner with 1:36 left in overtime to give the Ducks a 3-2 decision.
The Canucks are 2-1-1 in the preseason, taking their first loss in regulation last night in San Jose, 3-1. That was the same score the Ducks lost by in San Jose on Friday night.
The Ducks eliminated Vancouver in five games in last year's Western Conference Semifinals.
Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who missed the Ducks' last preseason game with a sore groin muscle, has indicated he will play tonight. The Ducks still are without the services of J.S. Giguere and Samuel Pahlsson (both out after abdominal surgeries) and defenseman Mathieu Schneider (fractured left ankle).
The Ducks leave Monday night for London to open the regular season with two games against the Kings for the NHL Premiere on Sept. 29 and 30.
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According to the LA Times, tonight's the night to decide the rest of the spots
The Ducks' final exhibition game tonight at home against the Vancouver Canucks will be the last opportunity for players to state their case for what are probably three positions up for grabs on the opening-night roster.
Among the jobs available is a spot on the wing of one of their two scoring lines. Two openings appeared with the departures of Teemu Selanne and Dustin Penner,but one was filled with the signing of Todd Bertuzzi.
The other opening gives hope to the likes of youngster Drew Miller, top prospect Bobby Ryan or journeyman Jason King, each of whom has shown offensive capability at lower levels.
Their fate, along with that of other candidates vying for jobs, could be determined tonight.
"When you have a number of bodies around and you know you've got to make some tough decisions, there's always an opportunity when you get a chance to play in a game," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said.
Carlyle will make final decisions by Monday before the Ducks leave for London, where they begin the regular season as defending Stanley Cup champions against the Kings.
There has been a push for Ryan, 20, the second overall pick of the 2005 draft, to crack the roster. No. 1 pick Sidney Crosby became the NHL's most valuable player, and the third overall pick, defenseman Jack Johnson, is expected to be in the Kings' lineup on Saturday.
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Beauchemin in tonight?
With Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne absent, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Samuel Pahlsson and Mathieu Schneider hurt, the last thing the Ducks needed was a significant injury to Francois Beauchemin.
The Ducks seem to have avoided that misfortune. Beauchemin practiced Saturday after a sore groin had kept him off the ice since Monday’s exhibition game at Vancouver, and appeared likely to play tonight when the Ducks close their exhibition campaign against the Canucks at Honda Center.
"A couple days off, just working out and not skating, helped a lot," Beauchemin said. "I’ll be playing."
Coach Randy Carlyle wasn’t as definitive, saying he wants Beauchemin in the lineup for the final tune-up before Saturday’s regular-season opener in London against the Kings, but emphasizing that he wouldn’t risk further injury.
With Niedermayer still weighing retirement, and his anticipated replacement, Schneider, expected to be out until at least mid-October because of a fractured left ankle, the Ducks can ill afford to be without Beauchemin. In just his second NHL campaign, Beauchemin led all Ducks defensemen in ice time during last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs, despite the presence of superstars Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.
So strong last season, the club’s defense is very much an unknown at this point. Not only do the Ducks face the challenge of replacing Niedermayer, who like Selanne continues to weigh possible retirement and might or might not return, but now there is also the void left by Schneider’s injury.
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