With 10 games left in the regular season, and needing only one point to clinch a playoff spot, the Anaheim Ducks can have some flexibility in their roster down the stretch.
In the morning skate before taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs, it appeared the team was going to need that flexibility.
It started with the team calling up rookie defenseman Shea Theodore on Thursday.
Filling in for injuries at the blueline earlier in the season, Theodore registered six points in 13 games played. Of those six points, four came on the power play.
The reason for Theodore’s call up became evident on Thursday. Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reported Simon Despres was sent back to Anaheim due to an injury.:
Despres was sent home to be evaluated, possibly to see if he doesn’t have any recurring symptoms of a concussion after recovering from one that kept him out for 42 games before returning to action on Jan. 26.
“He got hit last game and he wasn’t feeling right,” Boudreau said. “With his history, we wanted to make sure that he’s completely better before he plays.”
The other loss to the Ducks roster will have a greater impact, as Ryan Kesler returned to Southern California to tend to a family emergency. Per Stephens, the team is not sure whether or not Kesler will be able to rejoin the team, who are in the middle of a five game Canadian road trip.
After getting off to a crappy start, the Ducks resurgence has been led in large part by Kesler.
The 31-year-old had played in every game for Anaheim up to this point. He his relied upon for his defensive capabilities as a center and pitches in on offense. His line with Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano are relied upon to shut down the opposing team’s top line. Kesler is a key component of the Ducks No. 1 rated penalty kill.
Losing Kesler is another blow to the forward group who lost David Perron to a shoulder injury earlier in the week.
The good thing for the Ducks is that reinforcements are on the way. From Stephens:
Sami Vatanen (head) and Chris Stewart (jaw) have joined up with the Ducks but neither will play. The two did take part in the club’s morning skate at Air Canada Centre, with Boudreau saying it “won’t be long” before either is ready to play.
The team can be cautious with all players once they lockdown the playoff spot, and preferably, home ice in at least the first round.
Might as well take extra precautions now before the grind of the playoffs start.
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY: