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Time coming for Ducks' Jonas Hiller to set a timetable for his return

March 19, 2011 | 12:56 pm

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Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, plagued by vertigo symptoms for more than a month and able to play in only two games since he appeared in the NHL All-Star Game, said he’s feeling “definitely better than a week ago” after alternating with Ray Emery and Dan Ellis during the team’s morning skate Saturday at Honda Center.

Emery, who made his first start for the Ducks on Wednesday in a 30-save victory over St. Louis, is expected to start against the Kings on Saturday night at Staples Center. The Ducks’ playoff hopes would certainly be lifted by the return of Hiller, who ranked among the NHL’s leaders with a .925 save percentage before he was forced out of the lineup by lightheadedness and dizziness.

There are no projections for Hiller's return, but Coach Randy Carlyle said the team will soon have to determine a schedule for Hiller if he continues to feel good and is able to increase his physical activity.

“He’s had one bad day out of seven, so we think that’s progress,” Carlyle said. “This is a day-to-day issue. At some point we’ll have to make a date. If he’s [fine] 14 days straight, are we waiting too long or should we put him in the net? That’s a decision that we have to come together with, with him, our medical staff and the coaching staff.”

Hiller said he must work harder to maintain his focus than before the vertigo struck, leaving him more tired than normal after practice.

“But definitely seeing the puck better and everything feels good out there,” he said. “It’s definitely positive. And also for my mental side it’s a big boost because it was quite depressing not moving forward for quite a while.

“We’ll see. I still have to be patient. I don’t want to overdo it but definitely heading in the right direction. Even though I did quite a lot the last couple of days I still feel all right.”

Hiller said he hasn’t set a target for when he will play again. 

“You always think about what’s realistic, like in a week if I feel as much better as I feel right now compared to a week ago, I definitely think I’d be close to playing,” he said. “But I don’t know if that progression is steady all the time. Hopefully somewhere next week. But I never really put a date down.”

Check back later for more on Saturday's Kings-Ducks game at Staples Center, at www.latimes.com/sports

--Helene Elliott

Photo: Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller during a 5-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Jan. 20. Credit: John E. Sokolowski / US Presswire

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