Sami Vatanen (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The Anaheim Ducks can’t catch a break. The team announced today that they will be without Matt Beleskey for 2-4 weeks (upper-body injury) and Sami Vatanen for 4-6 weeks (lower-body injury). Josh Manson and Emerson Etem have been called up.
The Anaheim Ducks have dealt with goaltending injuries, a beaten up blueline and the mumps, but now, with less than two full months of regular season action remaining, the team will have to deal with the losses of Matt Beleskey and Sami Vatanen.
The Ducks announced Tuesday afternoon that Beleskey will be sidelined 2-4 weeks with an upper-body injury, while Vatanen’s lower-body injury will keep him on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. The injuries come just as the Ducks were beginning to get to full health again and right as teams head into the two-week stretch before the trade deadline.
Adding to the terrible timing is that the Ducks are currently mired in a slump in which they’ve lost four of their past five games and six of their past nine. The Ducks have also allowed 35 goals in their past nine. Though they’re firmly in first place in the Pacific Division with 77 points -- 10 points ahead of Vancouver and Calgary -- there are still 25 games remaining in their season and a blueline that has been thin all season now takes another hit as they enter the stretch run.
Beleskey, 26, was having a breakout season for the Ducks. Through 56 games, he had tallied 21 goals and 30 points, career-highs in both categories. For most of the season, the winger has been paired alongside Ryan Kesler on the Ducks’ second line. He’s also played a considerable amount of time with Ryan Getzlaf this season, replacing Corey Perry on the wing while he was out with injury.
But it’s the loss of Vatanen that will hurt much more.
Vatanen, 23, is in his second full season with the Ducks and has already transformed into one of their top blueliners. Forced into the role due to injury early in the season, Vatanen has excelled, scoring 12 goals and 34 points in 57 games, smashing his career-high 6 goals and 21 points set last season.
He’s also been the Ducks’ leader in ice time over the course of the season. Vatanen has played 1,235 minutes for the Ducks, averaging 21:40 per outing, third highest on the team. The increase in ice time is more than four minutes more per game from last season. He hasn’t struggled with the increased duty, either.
With Clayton Stoner as his primary partner, Vatanen has maintained positive possession numbers, with a Corsi For of 50.4 at 5-on-5 while starting the bulk of his shifts in the defensive and neutral zones. Vatanen has been the possession driver of his pairing, too. Without Stoner, Vatanen posts a 5-on-5 Corsi For of 50.6 percent. When Stoner is without Vatanen, his Corsi Far falls to 44.2 percent.
In 18 games with the Ducks this season, Manson has one assist and averaged 19:05 of ice time per game. Etem has suited up for 27 games, notching two goals and six points in 12:11 per outing.