The Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens reported today that defensemen Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, and goaltender Ryan Miller are on the verge of making their season debuts with the Anaheim Ducks.
Lindholm is expected to be the first one to return to the lineup against the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow, indicated by his full participation at practice yesterday and his presence on the Ducks second power play unit.
Vatanen and Miller are not expected to be available for Friday’s game, but Anaheim expects them to be activated at some point during the Ducks upcoming four game road trip beginning October 24th.
This timing would be perfect for Miller, as the team will play its first set of back-to-back contests October 28th and 29th, giving John Gibson a rest from the heavy workload he has been shouldering as of late.
Anaheim’s blueline has been under duress to begin the season without Lindholm and Vatanen, forcing head coach Randy Carlyle to give Kevin Bieksa, Francois Beauchemin, and Korbinian Holzer/Jaycob Megna a large amount of ice time with relatively unsuccessful results.
Having Lindholm and Vatanen back would also be a huge boost for the Ducks anemic power play, which thus far has yet to convert a single attempt out of 21 tries. Vatanen would especially help in this case, giving the Ducks second unit a true power play quarterback to complement Cam Fowler on the first line.
Speedy youngster Ondrej Kase is also expected to return to the lineup on Friday after missing the last three contests due to an upper body injury sustained early in the game against the Calgary Flames on October 9th. Many believe he sustained a concussion in that incident.
Finally, forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Eaves remain sidelined and did not practice yesterday due to their lower body injuries. It remains to be seen if Getzlaf will be ready for tomorrow, but Eaves is not expected to be available for Friday’s game.