The Ducks opened the season with an unproven defense that has been shaky at times, but General Manager Jack Ferreira believes the situation might smooth itself out over time.
"You hope it does," Ferreira said. "You're still always looking to improve the team. That's easier said than done."
Veteran Bobby Dollas and second-year player Jason Marshall have been the Ducks' most reliable defenseman. Fredrik Olausson, Adrian Plavsic and Darren Van Impe have all made dangerous mistakes handling the puck. Dave Karpa sat out the exhibition season because of a contract dispute, and Ruslan Salei is a rookie.
"Karpa's still in training camp," Ferreira said. As for Salei: "He's had more good moments than bad moments."
Enforcer Ken Baumgartner returned to the lineup, sitting out only one game after suffering a partial separation of his right shoulder last Thursday. The Ducks also dressed Barry Nieckar, a tough guy who started the season with the Long Beach Ice Dogs. . . . Four Ducks are on the NHL all-star ballot: Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne, Jari Kurri and goalie Guy Hebert. The game is Jan. 18 in San Jose.