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Tom Dianora The Hockey Writers

Published on Monday, October 23, 2017





Ducks Drill Down: Fowler Injured, Win Granted Versus Habs

‘Ducks Drill Down’ is a regular, ~weekly column that recaps the latest goings-on with the Anaheim Ducks.

The Anaheim Ducks got a nice respite from a busy first couple of weeks of the season that saw them compile a paltry 2-3-1 record while trying to stay afloat in the standings amidst an onslaught of injuries to key players.

Nevertheless, while the Ducks only played one game over the past week, it was certainly an eventful one and another situation where they just couldn’t catch a break with respect to the injury bug.

Fowler Injures Right Knee

In that one Friday home contest against the Montreal Canadiens, Cam Fowler—whose importance to the Ducks is even more pronounced in the absences of Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen—became the latest Anaheim player to be hit with an injury.

Fowler fell awkwardly in the first period and needed to be helped off the ice. The Ducks are only calling it a lower-body injury, at least for now, but the way Fowler’s right leg buckled and twisted strongly suggests that his right knee is the problem area.

Cam Fowler, NHL, Anaheim Ducks

Cam Fowler’s apparent knee injury is the latest in a rash of injuries to befall the Ducks in the early stages of this season. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Of course, the immediate question is how severe the injury is. A sprain is one thing, but an ACL tear would be disastrous. As of Saturday, Oct. 21, Fowler, who has experienced knee injuries in the past, was undergoing assessments including an MRI; the prognosis is not yet known—at least not publicly. However, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, initial indications are that Fowler could be out four to six weeks. That would be a difficult pill for the Ducks to swallow, but at least he would return and still be in action for well over half the season as opposed to missing the rest of the campaign.

Related – Ducks Drill Down: Surviving the Early-Going

In light of this situation, some good news for Anaheim is that Lindholm and Vatanen both appear to be very close to returning. Per Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Daily News, Lindholm could be back for Anaheim’s next contest, in Philadelphia against the Flyers. Vatanen, meanwhile, could follow suit shortly thereafter, possibly during that same four-game road trip.

Hampus Lindholm

Hampus Lindholm, above, and Sami Vatanen are close to making their season  debuts for the Ducks. (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)

Maybe, sometime this season, the Ducks will actually be fully healthy. But for now, they’ll surely take whatever help they can get from Lindholm and Vatanen.

Related – Hampus Lindholm: The NHL’s Most Underrated Defenseman

Ducks Victorious in Tumultuous Affair

As for the rest of the game against the Canadiens, the Ducks emerged with a much-needed victory, pouring in six goals against Carey Price and the struggling Habs en route to a 6-2 final.

Derek Grant, one of the fill-ins for Anaheim’s depleted forward corps, led the charge with the first two goals of his NHL career. Dennis Rasmussen, Antoine Vermette, Brandon Montour, and Chris Wagner also found the back of the net for the Ducks, supplying them with some necessary depth scoring.

Despite the lopsided final score, though, it wasn’t all pretty for Anaheim. Their issues with defense and possession were glaringly evident in the second period, during which they yielded a whopping 30 shots against. If not for John Gibson’s 28 saves in that period, the game might have transpired differently, as the Ducks didn’t put it away until scoring three times in the final stanza.

In all, the game featured an eye-popping 96 total shots on goal between the two teams, 51 of which belonged to Montreal. That type of defense (or lack thereof) is not conducive to consistent winning over the long run. Of course, the returns of Lindholm and Vatanen should help in spite of Fowler’s absence.

Looking Ahead

The Ducks, now sitting with a 3-3-1 record that is pretty decent considering all they have had to endure, will have had another three days without any game activity by the time they take the ice in Philadelphia Tuesday night, Oct. 24. They will then play another trio of road games in the southeast against the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Carolina Hurricanes before returning home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs to open the month of November.


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