Saku Koivu practiced with the Ducks for a second consecutive day at Wednesday’s morning skate, but doctors are stopping the veteran center from playing in a game because of the effects of the concussion he received Oct. 27 in Columbus.
“I got word this morning,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Each day he’s getting better, each day he looks better. But it’s like any injury, you’ve got to get cleared by the doctors to play. No matter how good he looks in practice, especially with head injuries you’re not going to play.”
Koivu, who’ll turn 39 on Saturday, has two goals and an assist through 12 games, and the Ducks can use him, given the dearth of scoring beyond the first line during the 0-3-1 road trip they just finished.
“He looks really good,” said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano, who usually plays on the third line with Koivu. “Not sure what’s going on, think he’s finishing up with what he’s feeling.
“He looks good on the ice now. He’s very important to the team, a veteran guy who is very solid in the middle. Great stability, plays in all situations. He’s a big part of the team. It’s something you’ve got to power through. Until he’s back, guys have to do a better job around him.”
Boudreau said the void becomes more glaring amid a struggle.
“You always miss veteran leadership,” Boudreau said. “He’s a guy who was captain of the Montreal Canadiens for 11 years. He kills penalties, wins big faceoffs. If I need him, he plays the power play. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s gone, so of course you miss guys like that.”
FIXING THE SLUMP: Cogliano said it’s logical to make a point that the Ducks let three of the recent road games get away from them from the start of the third period on.
“It’s definitely tough, the schedule has been tough, but if you’re going to be a good team in this league, factors like that can’t matter,” Cogliano said.
The Ducks are in the process of playing 17 of 24 games on the road.
“You look at the teams that won in the past, they get through adversity,” Cogliano said. “If you want to be an elite team, you can’t use excuses.”
The plan for tonight -- against the New Jersey Devils -- and beyond is to do a better job swarming to the net, shooting from up close.
“There’s ruts you go through, it’s unfortunate that a lot of guys are going through it at the same time,” Cogliano said. “We need to get this going in the other direction pretty quickly.”
Teemu Selanne said being home, where the first-place Ducks (15-6-2) are 8-0, is an ideal place to right the wrongs.
“It’s a place where we have a lot of confidence,” Selanne said. “Obviously a tough road trip, we need to re-energize and regroup.”
HILLER'S GAME: Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller (7-3-1) was first off the ice and should start tonight's game after Viktor Fasth started the last two.