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Pro Hockey | DUCK REPORT

Another Promising Start for Leclerc

November 13, 2001|Chris Foster

Mike Leclerc looked pretty nimble for a big guy Sunday.

Marty McInnis bounced a pass off the boards behind the net. Leclerc took the puck, slipped in front of the net and backhanded a shot past Dallas goalie Ed Belfour.

It was Leclerc's sixth goal, tying him with Paul Kariya for the team lead.

"Mike is a big, strong guy," McInnis said. "He doesn't try to do anything fancy. He just keeps things simple."

The goal was the type of play the Ducks have come to expect from Leclerc, a 25-year-old left wing. His skating and puck handling skills are lethal combined with his 6-foot-2, 208-pound body.

"He goes to the net and gets rewarded," center Steve Rucchin said. "When he gets to there, he is able to put the puck in the net.... There is no reason he won't be a good goal scorer if he stays healthy."

That's been the key for Leclerc. Fast starts are nothing new for him. Nor are injuries.

He had four goals and 10 points in the first nine games last season, and 12 goals and 30 points in the first 34 games, a 29-goal, 72-point pace, before undergoing knee surgery.

He finished with 15 goals and 35 points, but was sidelined for 28 games because of injuries.

A promising 1999-2000 season also was stopped by an injury. Leclerc had four goals and five points during a four-game stretch in mid-October, then needed elbow surgery. He finished with eight goals and 19 points in 69 games.

*

Center Matt Cullen's first-period assist against Dallas on Sunday was the 100th of his career.

Cullen had two assists in the game, giving him nine points (one goal, eight assists) in the last eight games. He has a team-high 10 assists and is second on the team with 13 points.

Cullen assisted on Leclerc's goal in the first period. Then, while killing a penalty in the second, Cullen tipped the puck out of the Ducks' zone to Jeff Friesen, who scored a short-handed goal.

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