ANAHEIM — Rickard Rakell couldn’t say Friday when he would return to the Ducks’ lineup. He also couldn’t say whether he was close to feeling 100 percent again. And he really couldn’t say how long it might be before he’s feeling himself again and ready to contribute in a game.
What he could say was this:
“I hate being in the gym. I’m so tired of it. As of now, I just want to play hockey again.”
It’s been one month since Rakell sprained his ankle in the third period of the Ducks’ 4-2 victory Dec. 5 over the Chicago Blackhawks at Honda Center. He sat out Friday for the 12th consecutive game, missing the Ducks’ contest against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Rakell rejoined his teammates Thursday for the first time since he was injured, but he and fellow injured right wing Patrick Eaves didn’t participate in the full workout, departing the ice as planned after a few drills. Rakell and Eaves (broken rib) joined the Ducks for Friday’s morning skate.
There is no timetable for either to return to the lineup, though.
It could be days or it could be longer.
“I never enjoy sitting out and being injured,” Rakell said. “It’s definitely a lot of fun getting back out there. We’ve been doing a lot of stuff off the ice, making sure I’m not in any pain or there’s any chance of re-injuring it. We’re just taking it step by step. For now, it feels pretty good.
“Hopefully, it’s just going to feel better.”
Setbacks are common with sprained ankles and Rakell hinted he had suffered one recently.
“It’s awful,” he said of the injury. “I’ve had it before. It’s easy to re-injure it. I can walk fine and do stuff off the ice. It feels like doing normal stuff and then I get on the ice and I just tweak it a little bit and I’m set back for two weeks again. So that’s what we’re making sure I’m not doing here.”
It wasn’t possible to say how far Rakell has to go before he can play again and provide the Ducks’ struggling offense with a boost. He scored five goals and 20 points in 30 games before he was hurt, after leading the team with 34 goals and 69 points in 77 games last season.
“It’s tough to say because in some situations, it feels like it’s 100 (percent), where I don’t even think about it,” he said. “Then there are some situations where I still feel it and it hurts. It’s tough to say, but it feels better and better for every day that goes by, and I don’t feel too far off.”
Defenseman Cam Fowler appears closer to a return to the lineup than Rakell and Eaves. Fowler has been skating with the Ducks for a week, but there’s no firm date for him to rejoin his teammates for his first game since suffering fractures of his orbital, cheek and jaw bones Nov. 12.
A complex surgery was required and plates and screws were inserted to repair the damage.
“He skated again today, so it’s another step closer,” Coach Randy Carlyle said of Fowler. “As far as when he’s coming back, that’s not up to me. That’s up to the doctors and the medical people and him. Ultimately, he’ll be given an opportunity to make the decision.
“When he chooses to play, that’ll totally be up to him … (and) the doctors.”
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