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Koivu likely to play, Emery to be backup goalie for Ducks Wednesday

March 9, 2011 |  5:12 pm

Saku Koivu is likely to return to the Ducks’ lineup Wednesday against the New York Rangers at Honda Cetner after missing six games because of a sore groin, and goaltender Ray Emery will return after a two-game assignment to Syracuse of the American Hockey League.

Koivu’s status will be decided after the warmup but he appears likely to play. Emery, though game-sharp after two solid performances in winning efforts, is expected to be the backup to Dan Ellis.

“I think looks like I’m in the lineup,” Koivu said after the morning skate.

He said he’s not at the 110% level Coach Randy Carlyle had wanted but is prepared to play.

“You can kind of test it as long as you want but the game situation is the next step for us and it felt comfortable in the practice [Tuesday and Monday],” Koivu said. “With this type of injury you’re hoping that the first game goes well and there’s no setbacks but 100% it’s probably not there. But at this time of the year it’s kind of rare for anybody to be feeling that well.”

He said he felt improvement the past two or three days. “I got a little bit more gym time strengthening it and I think getting a good three days of skating with the team and one good day by myself with the coaches, that’s kind of what you’re looking for,” he said.

Wednesday’s game seemed like a good chance to start Emery, who stopped 67 of 69 shots in two games with the Crunch. And Carlyle said after the morning skate that Emery “is an option for us tonight.”

However, Ellis was the first goalie off the ice, the privilege traditionally reserved for the starter, and Emery said after the skate that he hadn’t been told he would start and that he would have been notified by then.

He said he’s prepared to play whenever he's called upon.

“I feel good. So without playing an NHL game I’m as ready as I can be,” he said.

The two games with Syracuse helped get him to that point. “I hadn’t been in the net in a game situation for about 10 days so there’s certain things you can’t practice in a practice,” he said. “There’s traffic situation, playing the puck under pressure, some scrambles and things like that. I wanted to work on those things and felt I did a good job of brushing up on those areas.”

Emery hasn’t played in an NHL game since last Feb. 1, while he was with the Flyers. He underwent major hip surgery in April and was signed by the Ducks just over a month ago to provide depth in their system. But with goaltender Jonas Hiller still feeling symptoms of vertigo — Hiller skated lightly Wednesday but there’s still no timetable for his return — Emery has moved up a big step on the depth chart.

When he does play, he said, he expects to feel some nerves.

“I love getting butterflies. It kind of adds to your focus and makes you kind of present in the moment,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be excited to play and I look forward to it.”

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Helene Elliott