The COVID-19 carousel continued Friday for the Ducks, with right wing Troy Terry their latest player to be placed in the NHL’s protocol. Sam Carrick, newly released from the protocol after a four-game absence following a positive test, replaced Terry on right wing and assumed his power-play duties.
Terry led the Ducks with 22 goals and 36 points in 38 games, setting career highs in each category and playing a significant role in their surprising rise from the bottom of the Pacific Division. He was expected to be out for at least the Ducks’ games Friday at Minnesota and Saturday at Chicago.
Carrick had a career-high eight goals and 10 points in 27 games before he tested positive and was placed in the league’s protocol. Among the Ducks, only Terry and Trevor Zegras and Sonny Milano, with nine goals each, had scored more goals than Carrick this season.
“It’s an opportunity for the rest of our lineup to step up,” Ducks assistant coach Geoff Ward said via Zoom. “We have confidence in Sam. It’s an opportunity, with more ice time, to have a breakout game. The thing that stands out is how well he prepares and how hard he plays.
“You win with guys like Sam Carrick.”
In fact, the Ducks haven’t played with the same energy since Carrick went out of the lineup after their loss Jan. 2 to the Colorado Avalanche. They have split their past four games without him, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, but losing to the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
“He can be a real catalyst for us,” Ward said. “Let’s be honest, we haven’t been playing our best hockey of late. Part of it is we’re not winning battles and we’re not winning races. He gives us an opportunity to do more of that. We look forward to having him back. His energy is going to bring us a little bit of jump, but I think also the physical style that he plays is going to drag some of the other guys into the fight.”
At first, Carrick suffered from a stomach flu that lasted about 24 hours, an illness that he now believes was unrelated to COVID-19. When it passed, his coronavirus symptoms were “very mild,” which was frustrating because under normal circumstances, he would have just played.
“I still felt good and still had a decent amount of energy,” he said. “I just hung out at home. It’s definitely frustrating. As a player, you always want to be out there and playing the games. The hardest part was that I felt good and I felt like I could be out there helping the team out.”
Sitting out, watching the games on TV, gave Carrick a different perspective.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “But I got a chance to sit back and really watch the games and slow them down a little bit. I could watch more of the systems in real time, something you can’t really do when you’re playing, watching the systems out there. I was able to get a feel for how we look as a group.
“It was a good change to have a little different point of view.”