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DUCKS REPORT

Lupul Replaced From Within

October 11, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

The most obvious side question after the Ducks traded for Chris Pronger was how would they replace the 28 regular-season and nine postseason goals provided by the man they were giving up, Joffrey Lupul.

There were options available on the free-agent market. Instead of pursuing a short-term fix such as Anson Carter, Sergei Samsonov or Geoff Sanderson, General Manager Brian Burke put the onus on their core of young forwards to pick up the slack.

So far, so good. In three games, Chris Kunitz has a team-leading three goals and Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner and Corey Perry each have one.

"They're getting their opportunities to play in those offensive situations, which is a tribute to their commitment to competition for the position," Coach Randy Carlyle said. "It all started back in training camp. We asked our players to prepare themselves in a manner where you wouldn't have to question whether their conditioning level was going to be adequate. And those players delivered."

Kunitz, who didn't get his third goal last season until Dec. 8, said scoring goals early in the season is a relief for any player.

"Getting a goal early on, even in preseason, makes you feel more confident with the puck," he said. "It doesn't feel like you're fighting it. That's a big part of it, to be able to get on the board early. Then you don't have to worry about what people are saying or start second-guessing yourself."

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As expected, the Ducks have used Pronger and Scott Niedermayer together on the first unit of their power play. Assistant coach Newell Brown, who coordinates the power play, said the two are an ideal fit.

"The great thing is that Prongs and Scotty complement each other so well," Brown said. "Prongs is the kind of power-play guy that likes to keep everything in front of him and quarterback it. Scotty likes to move a lot. He's a bit of a rover, which he's really good at.

"The thing too about Prongs is he's got a great shot, but he also is an excellent puck-mover. He sees the ice and if his shot is taken away, he can go to the pass and really make the right pass at the right time."

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TONIGHT

vs. N.Y. Islanders, 7, FSN Prime Ticket

Site -- Honda Center.

Radio -- 830.

Records -- Ducks 3-0-0; Islanders 0-3-0.

Record vs. Islanders (2005-06) -- Did not play.

Update -- The Ducks, who've had only two days off since the beginning of training camp, conducted a loose practice that ended with a shootout contest Tuesday. "You can't be a taskmaster every day of your life," Carlyle said. After playing the Kings, the Islanders end their season-opening four-game trip with tonight's game.

Tickets -- (877) 945-3946.

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