Ducks News & Rumors: Injuries, Vaakainen & More

The Anaheim Ducks can’t seem to keep the good times rolling. They had several players return from injury only to lose another. They finally grabbed their elusive first regulation win but sit dead last in the entire league. Hard times continue to dog the Ducks as we near the midway point of the season.

Shattenkirk Returns from Injury, Comtois Day-to-Day with Lower-Body Injury

On Monday (Nov. 21), Kevin Shattenkirk returned from the lower-body injury he suffered at the beginning of this month. The defenseman played 18 minutes against the St. Louis Blues and his ice time has increased in every game since. He’s in the final season of a three-year contract he signed prior to the 2020-21 season.

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After surprisingly being out of the lineup for three consecutive games, it was revealed that Max Comtois was day-to-day with a lower-body injury. While the extent of his injury is unknown, it’s another bump in the road for his development after a tumultuous 2021-22 season. With several forward prospects getting closer to making the jump to the NHL, it appears that Comtois may soon be on the outside looking in.

Vaakanainen Back at Practice, Beaulieu Activated from IR

After suffering an injury during preseason that required a trip to the hospital, defenseman Urho Vaakanainen has finally returned to practice. He began skating again just about four weeks ago (from, ‘Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen returns to practice for 1st time since injury’, The Orange County Register, 11/24/22).

It’s been a long journey back for the Finn and what was almost a guaranteed spot on the Ducks’ blue line in preseason is now a crowded bunch. In his absence, the Ducks have signed Nathan Beaulieu and also given Colton White a shot at nailing down a spot on the third defensive pair.

Urho Vaakanainen Anaheim Ducks
Urho Vaakanainen, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Though Jamie Drysdale’s injury did open up another spot on the blue line, head coach Dallas Eakins seems intent on keeping the top-four as some combination of Cam Fowler, Dmitry Kulikov, John Klingberg and Simon Benoit. Vaakanainen will get his chance whenever he’s ready to play again, but it won’t be an easy road back. 

Beaulieu was activated off injured reserve this week after recovering from an injury of his own. He logged 15:14 of ice time in his return on Friday (Nov. 25) against the Ottawa Senators. After entering preseason on a professional tryout (PTO), Beaulieu signed a one-year contract with the club just before the regular season began.

Ducks Get First Regulation Win of the Season

The evil beast has finally been vanquished. In game 20 of 82, the Ducks finally secured their first regulation win of the season on Wednesday night (Nov. 23) against the New York Rangers.

After starting out shakily by letting one slip through the five-hole, goaltender John Gibson was locked in, making several eye-popping saves and doing just enough to keep the Ducks ahead in their eventual 3-2 win.

Anaheim got goals from Mason McTavish, Dmitry Kulikov and Troy Terry with Kulikov having perhaps his best game in a Ducks sweater. The defenseman not only had a two-point night, but he also took a puck to the face and, after receiving stitches in the locker room, returned to eventually score his second goal of the season.

The Ducks avoided unfortunate history just barely by capturing their first regulation win in the span of 20 games, which would have tied them with the 2017-18 Arizona Coyotes for the longest streak without a regulation win to start the season.

Klingberg Day-to-Day with Lower-Body Injury

Klingberg sat out of the Ducks’ Black Friday matinee with an undisclosed lower-body injury. The Swede hasn’t quite met expectations since joining on a one-year deal this past offseason and his 15:31 time on ice against the Rangers was his lowest total of the season. Of course, whatever injury he suffered might have had an impact. The Ducks certainly expected more offense out of Klingberg than eight points in 20 games so the hope is that he can come firing out of the gate whenever he returns from injury.

Friday’s 5-1 drubbing to the Senators may very well be the low point to the Ducks’ season thus far with a fine performance on Wednesday now immediately overshadowed. As the team edges closer to being as fully healthy as possible, better results would be a welcome sight.

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