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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Sexton, Levasseur wrap up big weekend for Syracuse.

Dan Sexton’s three-point game Sunday wrapped up a big weekend for the erstwhile Ducks right wing in the American Hockey League.

Sexton scored once at even strength and once short-handed – who knew he could kill penalties? – and added an assist in the Syracuse Crunch’s 5-0 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack Connecticut Whale. Sexton also had a goal in a 4-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday, giving him three goals and an assist in two games since his latest AHL demotion.

Defenseman Brett Festerling (two goals, plus-4 rating), left wing Matt Beleskey (goal, assist) and defenseman Mat Clark (goal, assist) also had strong games for the Crunch on Sunday.

Although playing back-to-back games is common for AHL goalies, Jean-Phillippe Levasseur’s weekend bears mentioning. His 32-save shutout Sunday came less than 24 hours after a 42-save effort against the Penguins. The 23-year-old lowered his goals-against average to 2.81 and boosted his save percentage to .918.

With Timo Pielmeier struggling (6-10-1, 3.61, .898), Levasseur looks like the Ducks’ number three goalie by default.

Down on the farm, some Ducklings are hatching.

The Syracuse Crunch can loosely be broken down into two
groups of players: Those who are still developing, and those you might see in
Anaheim this season.

Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri cut to the front of the
promotion line with strong performances last week. By Wednesday they were in
Ducks uniforms, playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That might have been ahead of the curve for both, who are
just beginning their first full season in professional hockey. Even though
Ducks fans have been hearing about Bonino and Palmieri for more than a year, if
anything they have been fast-tracked to the NHL.

“In baseball, most of the top prospects get put into
Single-A and work their way up,” said David McNab, the Ducks’ senior vice
president of hockey operations. “It doesn’t appear that they draft a player and
immediately stick them in Triple A. that’s what the American League is:
Triple-A baseball. It’s a tough league. There’s a lot of veteran hockey players
in the American Hockey League who are great players. It takes time.”

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Ducks trim training camp roster by 12.

A total of 12 players were cut from the Ducks’ training camp roster today: Nick Bonino, Rob Bordson, Mat Clark, Nicolas Deschamps, Joe DiPenta, Brandon McMillan, Mark Mitera and Kyle Palmieri were assigned to American Hockey League affiliate Syracuse. Emerson Etem (Medicine Hat/WHL), Peter Holland (Guelph/OHL), Devante Smith-Pelly (Mississauga/OHL) and Scott Valentine (Oshawa/OHL) were assigned to their respective junior teams.

None of the assignments were unexpected. DiPenta, who had already signed an AHL contract, was in camp on a pro tryout but not expected to make the NHL team.

Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said he was impressed with the Long Beach native Etem, a first-round draft pick in June and Smith-Pelly, a second-round pick.

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Ducks 4, Vancouver 2.

The Ducks went out winners at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C., topping the Vancouver Canucks’ rookies 4-2.

After two straight losses in which they were outmuscled for net position and looked lost on special teams, the kids turned it around in a major way. A pair of power-play goals, by Rob Bordson and Cam Fowler, staked the Ducks to a 2-0 lead through two periods.

In the third, Vancouver came back to tie the game at 2 against goaltender Timo Pielmeier, who lost the tournament opener Sunday. But center Maxime Macenauer, who spent all of last season with ECHL affiliate Bakersfield, scored the game-winner with less than three minutes to play. Kyle Palmieri’s empty-net goal provided the final score.

The Ducks led in the shot column, 33-18, and Pielmeier needed only 16 saves for the win. Russian goalie Igor Bobkov was on the bench for the first time in the tournament, but the Ducks’ third-round 2009 draft pick did not appear in the game.

Some of the rookie camp participants will take part in the Ducks’ main camp, which begins Saturday in Anaheim.
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Ducks fall 8-4 to Flames’ rookies.

Playing their second game in less than 24 hours, fatigue seemed to catch up to the Ducks’ rookies in an 8-4 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, British Columbia.

Tied at 3 midway through the second period, the Flames rallied for five straight goals against Anaheim goalie Marco Cousineau, who allowed all eight in his first appearance of the tournament. Forward Jon Rheault, who split last season between the AHL and ECHL, had three goals and an assist for Calgary.

John Kurtz, Jake Newton, Devante Smith-Pelly and Jake Carrick scored for the Ducks, who were outshot 41-22. Calgary had four power-play goals to the Ducks’ two. Cam Fowler and Peter Holland had assists on the goals by Kurtz and Newton, respectively.

“Penalty kill is a hard thing. You have to have special people that are
committed to doing it – guys that are committed to blocking shots all
the time,” Mark Holick, coach of the rookie Ducks, told the team’s website. “We didn’t
jump on loose pucks and we didn’t put enough pressure on their power
play. Your goalie is your best penalty killer and I thought maybe a
couple of those he would like back too.”

The Ducks will play their third and final tournament game Wednesday against the host Vancouver Canucks (4 p.m.), a game that will be streamed live on the Ducks’ website.
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North American prospects report; Parros on TV.

Reviews of ten Ducks prospects who just finished their North American junior seasons have been posted on Hockey’s Future: Peter Holland, Mat Clark, Josh Brittain Scott Valentine, Luca Sbisa, Brandon McMillan, Stefan Warg, Nicolas Deschamps, Marco Cousineau and Radoslav Illo.

Also, George Parros will be on a special all-Hockey episode of “Sports Soup” tonight on Versus (8:30 p.m.).  A disclaimer: Watched the show once to find Sen Dog of Cypress Hill talking about the Lakers. If this brand of talk show is your idea of entertainment … don’t miss it.

Ducks sign Mat Clark.

The Ducks signed defenseman Mat Clark to a three-year entry-level contract, which begins at the start of the 2010-11 season. Contract terms were not immediately available.

The 6-3, 211-pound blueliner had seven goals and 23 points with 88 PIM in 66 games for the Ontario Hockey League’s Brampton Battalion. He won the team’s defenseman of the year award, leading all club blueliners in goals and ranking second in points. Following the regular season, Clark was voted the Best Body Checker and Best Defensive Defenseman in the OHL’s Eastern Conference coaches’ poll. All seven of Clark’s goals this season came on the power play.

In six postseason games so far, Clark has two goals and six points with a plus-2 rating and nine penalty minutes, leading all club defensemen in scoring. The 19-year-old was selected by Anaheim in the second round (37th overall) of the 2009 draft.