Ellis likely to start; New third line?; Black Aces up.

Dan Ellis was the first of the three Ducks goalies to leave the ice at the morning skate. That’s usually a good sign that he will be the starter, as if the writing weren’t on the wall already.

At his post-skate presser, Randy Carlyle at once declined to name his starter and explained why he doesn’t: “I’m sure that Barry Trotz and his staff have dissected what all three of our goalies have done. They probably had to do more work because we know who’s going to play for Nashville.”

Meanwhile, the forward lines stayed the same:

Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry
Blake-Koivu-Selanne
Beleskey-Bonino-McMillan
Winchester-Marchant-Parros
Ruutu-Chipchura-Sexton

Brandon McMillan is definitely skating at right wing. I think I might have mistakenly penciled him down on the left side earlier, maybe because that’s the only position other than center he’s played in his first NHL season. Switching a productive two-way center to the right side in favor of another rookie (Bonino) who hasn’t scored a point in the NHL all season is a bit unexpected, assuming Beleskey, Bonino and McMillan are in the lineup tonight against Nashville.

Carlyle, of course, had his reasons.
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On Ray Emery’s latest start, and what it means for the Ducks.

Ray Emery improved to 2-1 in his first three AHL starts Tuesday, earning the win in the Syracuse Crunch’s 4-3 win over the visiting Charlotte Checkers.

Emery stopped 34 of 37 shots between regulation and overtime, then stopped 3 of 4 in the shootout to preserve the win. Veteran forward Josh Green told the Syracuse Post-Standard after the game that “Ray’s an NHL goalie right now.”

That’s up to the Ducks to decide, and there was no indication at Tuesday’s practice that Emery was in the pool of candidates to start Wednesday night against the Kings. Aside from the logistical constraint of having the goalie fly across the country on short notice, Emery would have to make back-to-back starts for the second time in less than a week after not playing a game in 12 months. Emery already started consecutive games Friday and Saturday – and at least those were in the same time zone.

So the question before the Ducks probably isn’t if Emery will start tomorrow, but rather, is Josh Green right?

Here are the facts on the table: Emery has a 2.62 goals-against average and .925 save percentage to go with his 2-1-0 record. The Wild visit Anaheim on Friday and the Avalanche visit Sunday. The Crunch have home games Friday and Saturday. Jonas Hiller is recuperating from another bout of dizziness, and Curtis McElhinney is recuperating from three bad starts. If neither goalie has resolved his issues come Friday — and if Josh Green is right – it makes sense that Emery would be on his way to Anaheim.

Green sent back to Syracuse.

Josh Green’s latest NHL stint lasted only one game.

 

The Ducks returned the 33-year-old forward to the Syracuse Crunch one day after he logged 9:09 in a 5-2 loss at Buffalo. Green moved up and down the lineup, playing mostly left wing and a little center, and finished a minus-1 without recording a point.

 

Green was filling in while Nick Bonino rested a sore foot. The rookie center might be healed in time to play Sunday in Los Angeles but if not, Green could find himself in a Ducks uniform again.

Buffalo 5, Ducks 2.

It’s not often that an NHL coach, in his post-game press conference, starts off by remarking how tired his opponent looked. But Lindy Ruff couldn’t resist.

“I think we took advantage of a team that, you know, their energy level was low,” the Sabres’ coach said after a fairly easy win over the Ducks on Tuesday. “If you can take advantage of a team, get ‘em down early, it makes it even tougher on ‘em.”

Getting the Ducks down early wasn’t a problem for Buffalo, just like it wasn’t a problem for the Hurricanes on Saturday, or the Islanders last Thursday. Due mainly to a porous Ducks defense, the Sabres struck three times against Curtis McElhinney in the first period, and again at 4:40 of the second, to take a 4-0 lead.

Jason Blake’s vacation started even earlier than his teammates’. He was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Patrick Kaleta at 13:36 of the first period, skating quite some distance to knock Kaleta out of the game with the hit.

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Bonino (foot) out, Green up from Syracuse.

The Ducks announced that rookie center Nick Bonino will miss tonight’s game in Buffalo with a “minor foot injury,” and Josh Green was recalled from AHL affiliate Syracuse.

Green gets the nod over Dan Sexton (who is coming off a hot weekend) and Matt Beleskey (who has six goals and 12 points in 14 AHL games), probably because he can play the pivot. So can Todd Marchant, who has been mostly used as a left wing lately, but Green also displayed pretty good chemistry with Marchant and George Parros during a November stint on the fourth line. The 33-year-old has no points in 11 games with the Ducks this season. He had five goals and 13 points in 19 games for Syracuse.

The Ducks play the Sabres at 4 p.m., then get a five-day layoff before Sunday’s game in Los Angeles, which ideally would give Bonino enough time to heal before playing the Kings.

Carter, Green clear waivers; Green to Syracuse.

Josh Green and Ryan Carter are still Ducks property after the two forwards cleared waivers this morning. Green has since been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch, the Ducks’ American Hockey League Affiliate.

Carter’s next step is unclear. He’s passed through waivers twice this year and is in the final year of a one-way NHL contract. Stay tuned.

The Ducks have the day off practice.

Three sent to Syracuse; Carter placed on waivers.

The Ducks assigned forwards Brandon McMillan, Dan Sexton and Nick Bonino to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, on Monday. The Ducks aren’t practicing today or tomorrow, and the move allows the three youngsters to practice in Syracuse while saving the parent club a little money by getting three NHL salaries off the books.

The Ducks have a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any or all three players back on the ice then.

Ryan Carter and Josh Green are another matter. Both forwards were on waivers Monday and eligible to be claimed by any of the other 29 NHL teams before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Green was actually placed on non-roster waivers Sunday, which allowed the Ducks to activate defenseman Andy Sutton from injured reserve and play him against the Edmonton Oilers. That also allowed Green, who has played 11 scoreless games for Anaheim, to remain on waivers an extra day.

The Ducks have now placed Carter on waivers twice this year. The 27-year-old utlilityman has one goal, two assists and 22 penalty minutes in 18 games this season. Carter also had a minus-4 rating while averaging 10:44 a game in mostly a fourth-line and penalty-killing role. His 50.3 faceoff percentage ranked third on the team.

Forwards Kyle Chipchura (concussion) and Joffrey Lupul (back) are nearing closer to their return from injuries. Placing Green and Carter on waivers could be a prelude to making room on the NHL roster.

Ducks place Green on waivers.

Journeyman forward Josh Green has been placed on waivers.

Green was scoreless in 11 games as a Duck, with a minus-2 rating and six penalty minutes, playing primarily a fourth-line left wing role. The veteran started the season with Syracuse, playing seven games and notching a goal and three points.

With forwards Kyle Chipchura (concussion) and Joffrey Lupul (back) on the mend, waiving Green could be the first step toward making room for one or both to return to the lineup. The Ducks also assigned Kyle Palmieri to Syracuse this week, and recalled forwards Dan Sexton and Brandon McMillan.

More to come soon, including comments from general manager Bob Murray.

Ducks 5, Nashville 4.

After a back-and-forth game that saw the Ducks squander four 1-goal leads, Bobby Ryan hit Paul Mara streaking backdoor with 1.7 seconds left in the third period to secure a wild victory before 13,520 at Honda Center.

It was a fitting ending to a game that saw almost everyone get involved in the scoring, on a night when the Ducks needed all the help they could get. Mara was a most surprising source for the game-winner. He had not scored a goal since a playoff game on April 22, 2009 (a 59-game drought) and had not scored in the regular season since Feb. 11, 2009 (a 78-game drought).

“It used to be my game, but not any more,” Mara said. “I just go out there, try to play strong defense, make the correct plays, and every once in a while try to chip in with offense.”

“Give credit to my trainer there, Sluggo. He put a new pair of gloves in my stall and made me use them.”

Saku Koivu scored two goals, giving him 700 points in his career, and Teemu Selanne and Lubomir Visnovsky scored once.

More in tomorrow’s editions. Here are a few notes that didn’t make the paper:
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Fowler update, Green recalled, Blake back in.

Defenseman Cam Fowler “has made huge strides the last couple days, and hopefully he’s an option for us in the short term here. We’ll make a decision based upon how he tells us he feels,” head coach Randy Carlyle said Friday.

The 18-year-old has missed four games since breaking his nose against the Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 17, a longer absence than was initially expected. Fowler skated on his own after the morning skate, and Carlyle said “he is a quite possible option for tonight.”

One player the coach ruled out for tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils is Josh Green. The veteran left wing was recalled from Syracuse of the American Hockey League, where he had one goal, three points and six penalty minutes through seven games.

“Josh Green was based upon (the fact) that we have back to back games,” Carlyle said. “I don’t think it’s fair to our players to expect them to come out of the lineup when they’ve been here and we’ve recalled a player from the American Hockey League. He’s here as a safety net. As far as using him, it will basically depend on the performance and health of our team.”

That means Jason Blake will re-enter the lineup after becoming a healthy scratch Wednesday in Dallas.

“What we’ve asked (Blake) to do is be quick and be first on the forecheck,” Carlyle said. “He’s got to be, as I call it, somewhat of a more tenacious player with the puck down below the goal line. Finishing the body checks, stopping progression – we ask every member of our hockey club to do that and to basically out-work the people he’s up against. Be a safe, responsible hockey player. That’s what we’re asking of him and of everybody.”