Anaheim Ducks: 11 Players Stepping Up for the Injured
Injuries are part of any professional sport. Replacing a player's talent, skill, or specific role is often easier said than done.
Since the beginning of the season, the Ducks have been "short-handed" all too often.
With a defensively-challenged lineup from day one, the new offense would be required to produce at an alarming rate in order to keep the Ducks' heads above water.
Over the course of the first half of the season, the Ducks lost winger Joffrey Lupul to a back injury that would require surgery. He's since developed an infection and will be out indefinitely.
In addition, Saku Koivu suffered from a groin strain, Ryan Carter would be out as a result from two seperate foot injuries, and Teemu Selanne would need surgery to repair a broken hand.
Since returning from those injuries, Koivu is once again out with a knee sprain, and Selanne is dealing with a broken jaw.
With only three-of-the-top-six forwards in the lineup, the Ducks are going to require more from those you'd least expect to see on the score sheet.
Next, we'll take a look at who's doing what for the Ducks, and why this team is a red hot 7-2 to start the second half of the season.
The Sex Monster stepped into the NHL with Anaheim back in early December when Selanne went out with a broken hand. Sexton quickly made his presance known on the ice as he helped Anaheim to storm back in a game against Dallas where the rookie scored two goals en route to a victory.
Since starting his NHL career off with four goals in his first five games, Sexton's role has become increasingly vital on the second line alongside sophomore Bobby Ryan.
Sexton has 8-8=16 points in 23 games played with Anaheim this season, that's two more than Lupul in his 23 games played (10-4=14).
Having played 29 games with Anaheim this season, it wasn't until Beleskey was given a larger role on the clubs' top line, with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, that he started to make a real contribution to the team. Since Beleskey was moved into the spot, he's scored his first NHL goal, followed up by three more. His contribution is greatly noted as his first two were both game winners against Detroit and St. Louis, respectively.
Marchant has become a key part of Anaheim's defensive shut down. Playing a huge role on the Ducks penalty killing unit, Marchant's faceoff dominance is a key to the Ducks success when they are shorthanded.
While he isn't putting up big numbers, his 16 points in 50 games is just two shy of his total from last season.
The Ducks will continue to lean heavily on Marchant to lead the powerplay unit until Koivu returns.
Like Marchant, Brown's defensive skills make him a vital part of the Ducks penalty killing unit.
Brown has nine career goals, six from this season, alone. Brown doesn't average big minutes on the ice, but when he's out there, he makes them count. His speed, energy, and physical play give fans something to get excited about.
The Ducks are running low on healthy Finnish players, and now they're relying on Nokelainen more than ever before. He's moved into the center position on the second line alongside Ryan and Sexton, as well as playing big minutes on the penalty kill.
Add in some much needed goals from the forward, and the Ducks are being rewarded accordingly.
In a season of ups and downs for the big man, Artyukhin's size and physical power often get him into trouble. However, his remarkable speed and ability to move with the puck is a huge bonus for the Ducks.
In the previous two games, Artyukhin has two goals and an assist while averaging less than 10 minutes of ice time. If Artyukhin can stay out of the box, he might be one of the Ducks' best secret weapons.
The Big Guys
While scoring depth is always needed, it's understandable that Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan are the driving force behind Anaheim's offense. If the big guys can continue to contribute, the Ducks won't miss Lupul, Koivu, and Selanne in the lineup.
In the previous eight games the Ducks top forwards have combined for 20 points.
Sometimes a good offense is defense.
Brookbank is definitely having a career season in Anaheim. After being scratched for a good portion of the beginning of the season, Brookbanks numbers have improved greatly.
With an increase in ice time, Brookbank has put up eight points—all assists—since going scoreless in the first 14 games of the season. Brookbank and Koivu are tied for the team lead in plus/minus (+9).
In an unofficial manner, Hiller has claimed the No. 1 goaltending position.
Having gone 7-1 in his last eight starts, the netminder is one of the biggest components to the Ducks recent success. Hiller isn't new to this type of surging play, however. Last season, when the Ducks desperately needed to string together a large number of wins to make the playoffs, Hiller was their man.
If the Ducks can continually use their lesser known lineup to put up the goals, Hiller will find a way to make sure they win.