ANAHEIM — A lot of hockey has to do with luck; we even have an analytic to factor it in. This past week one could conclude the Anaheim Ducks off-ice PDO has leaned in their favor.
The makeup game against Washington, that forced the team to fly from Colorado to D.C. for a back to back to close the season, ended up being the game that gave them the Pacific Division. In turn for their cross-country trek back to California, the scheduling overlord at the NHL gave the team a break by scheduling their first playoff game five days later.
For a team that had an avalanche of injuries in the final two weeks, it was a welcome surprise.
“I can’t remember the last time … when you finished the season and got four or five days off before playoffs,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “It gave more time for our injured guys [to heal]. We just came through a period of 15 games in 28 days, so the rest I don’t think hurt the group either.”
After two practices and skating away from the team, it appears Rickard Rakell and David Perron will definitely be returning to the lineup for Game 1 against the Nashville Predators. Kevin Bieksa (upper-body injury) will be a game time decision.
Rakell last played on March 28 in Edmonton. He returned to Anaheim with the team, and missed the following game on Wednesday with what was first reported as the flu. It was later revealed he suffered an appendicitis.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf had his appendix removed earlier in the season, and was back after missing four games. Rakell went on to miss the rest of the regular season.
Getzlaf’s appendix removal was scheduled after he continued to suffer pain in his abdomen; Rakell’s wasn’t.
“Tuesday night I didn’t feel good at all … it’s was the worst pain I’ve felt in my life,” said Rakell. “I went into the emergency [room] and they took care of me.”
Turns out, Rakell’s appendix had ruptured.
“I actually didn’t know. They told me after the surgery. I didn’t really know what it meant.”
The 22-year-old center spent six days in the hospital. “I had to have tubes in my stomach to drain my stomach out.”
Naturally when you have your stomach drained, you’re going to lose weight. “I lost quite a bit,” said Rakell.” I’ve been doing a pretty good job to get it back. I got a lot of help from the trainers. Still, I can gain a few more pounds, but at least I feel good now. I feel like I have energy.”
He even got some help from roommate, and fellow Swede, Hampus Lindholm. The Ducks defenseman made meatballs for his ailing pal.
According to Ducks GM Bob Murray, Rakell underwent his last IV of antibiotics on Tuesday. He skated on his own Monday and Tuesday before taking in two full practices and a morning skate on Friday.
The Ducks welcome back Rakell who is coming off a career high in points (43) in 72 games played. His emergence along with that of David Perron has allowed for Boudreau to split up Getzlaf and Corey Perry; giving the Ducks at least three lines of potentially lethal offense. Something that appears to be a bit of a surprise to Nashville’s Mike Fisher:
I think I caught Mike Fisher off guard asking about the Getzlaf-Perry split. He said he expects them to be on the same line at some point.
— Abbey Mastracco (@AbbeyMastracco) April 15, 2016
Perron has not played since separating his shoulder on March 20. His loss was a big one for Anaheim as he had awaken the sleeping giant Getzlaf. With Perron in the lineup, Getzlaf had 27 points in 28 games; Perron had 20 points in that same period.
The original prognosis was 4-6 weeks from the time of injury. Perron himself said his goal from the beginning was to get himself to a point where he’s ahead of schedule.
“The first thought is to come back as soon as you can and go from there,” said Perron. “Then hopefully your adrenaline will take over. I feel confident, too, that it’s not something that is going to get worse. There’s going to be pain, but that’s just because it’s playoffs.
“… I heard [Jaromir] Jagr say it before: You could say, today I’ll give you the Stanley Cup; you’ll win it right now. Would you take it? Probably not. It’s going through the process of everything together as a team. He’s right. It hit me and hit other guys in the league. He’s exactly right on that one.”
After all the Ducks have been through this season, they’re hoping Perron, and Jagr, are right.
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