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DUCKS REPORT

Carlyle Draws Up New Battle Lines

October 18, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Even as he stressed the positive facets of the team's 3-0-2 start, Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle on Tuesday showed he isn't about to settle for the status quo.

Case in point: Teemu Selanne skated with Todd Marchant and Dustin Penner in practice instead of alongside usual linemates Andy McDonald and Chris Kunitz.

Another case in point: The entire top line was broken up. McDonald skated with Todd Fedoruk and Ryan Shannon, and Kunitz was put with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

The changes Carlyle is contemplating are a signal that he isn't satisfied with his team's play in five-on-five situations. For example, Selanne, McDonald and Kunitz have combined for 14 points but only four at even strength.

"As a coach, you have to continually strive to find the right combinations," Carlyle said.

There is precedence. Selanne and McDonald were split up in the midst of the Western Conference final against Edmonton even though they were largely responsible for each other's wildly successful 2005-06 season.

Breaking up a prolific pair might seem drastic, but Selanne was fine with the maneuver.

"You know, I think it's good to mix things once in a while," he said. "It gives us a little bit of a fresh start. A lot of times when you watch your linemates play with some other guys, you learn from them too. We're going to need different lines down the road. There's no season that it's always going to work every night."

*

The Ducks got a scare before opening night when captain Scott Niedermayer was hit in the mouth by a deflected puck in practice.

It was deja vu Tuesday, only it was Chris Pronger who went to the ice in a heap after getting hit in the mouth by an errant puck. He suffered a cut lip and needed several stitches.

Pronger was expected to play tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. He flashed a smile and a thumbs-up sign as he walked past reporters on the way to the training room.

eric.stephens@latimes.com

TONIGHT

vs. Detroit, 7, FSN Prime Ticket

Site -- Honda Center.

Radio -- 830.

Records -- Ducks 3-0-2; Red Wings 3-1-1.

Record vs. Red Wings (2005-06) -- 1-2-1.

Update -- Detroit is only three for 28 on power plays in its five games. One came on Robert Lang's goal in a 3-1 victory over the Kings on Monday. "If you watched their power play [Monday] and were watching their previous games this year, it's not because they haven't had chances on it," Carlyle said.

Tickets -- (877) 945-3946.

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