Curtis McElhinney and Timo Pielmeier were the only two goalies on the ice when the Ducks got back to practice Wednesday. No Ray Emery – he is still in Syracuse – and no Jonas Hiller, either.
Hiller is eligible to come off injured reserve prior to Wednesday’s game against the Kings, but that won’t happen. There seem to be mixed signals about just how long Hiller’s return from his latest ailment will take.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle sounded cautiously optimistic when he said of Hiller, “when he’s available to go on the ice, I haven’t got a timeframe for that, but we expect that to happen in the next little while. We don’t feel it’s going to be an extended period of time.”
Hiller has only played one full game since he first experienced symptoms of dizziness and light-headedness following the All-Star Game on Jan. 30. Recently, Hiller has been meeting with a therapist to deal with what the team is calling a “treatable balance issue.”
On Tuesday, he worked out off the ice then left Anaheim Ice just before his teammates finished practice. When asked for an update on his condition, the goalie didn’t offer any specifics, saying only that things are “not going the way I’d like them to.”
Still, Carlyle said it’s a “positive sign” that Hiller is being encouraged to work out and stay active, rather than completely refrain from any physical activity.
On Wednesday, expect the Ducks to go with the same McElhinney-Pielmeier tandem that allowed nine goals in a 9-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Carlyle spent extra time explaining some specifics during a defensive-zone coverage drill Tuesday; he also emphasized the importance of work ethic and “pushing through” adversity.
Saku Koivu is going to try to push through and play after not practicing Tuesday. Carlyle said that Koivu tweaked a groin muscle in Monday’s practice and will be a game-day decision.
Without Koivu, Brandon McMillan moved into the second-line center position, and the third line consisted of Dan Sexton, Maxim Lapierre and Jarkko Ruutu. Todd Marchant, Kyle Chipchura and George Parros skated on the fourth line in practice.
More details in tomorrow’s editions.