With the return of defenseman Luca Sbisa from a torn right hand tendon coming, however, the younger Vatanen was moved down to minor-league Norfolk Wednesday morning before the Ducks (37-9-5) play the Winnipeg Jets (22-23-5) at Honda Center at 7 p.m.
“That’s the only move that could be made,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Sami’s played really well. He’s the odd man out now. But I’m sure at some point he’ll be back.”
The bigger, more experienced Sbisa gives the Ducks more defensive authority at the blue line than Vatanen (six goals, eight assists), but Boudreau made it clear that production is the determining factor in who sticks with the team.
“It’s not like a normal year where [Sbisa's] a guy you pencil in right now,” Boudreau said. “He’s not coming in to be anointed. He’s going to have to earn a spot.”
HILLER FIRST OFF: He might have lost his 14-game win streak last week in Chicago, but goalie Jonas Hiller has another string going at home, where he’s 14-0-2 with three shutouts and a 1.86 goals-against average.
Hiller was first off the ice at Wednesday’s morning skate, indicating he’ll start against Winnipeg as the Ducks (20-0-2 at home) look to become one of just three NHL teams in the last 40 years to remain unbeaten in regulation after 23 games.
REUNION TIME: He was greeted warmly in his Oct. 6 homecoming to Winnipeg, where he started his NHL career with a 76-goal season, and Teemu Selanne appreciates what’s probably his final game against the Jets.
The Ducks forward, 43, will retire following this season.
Winnipeg, known as the Atlanta Thrashers from 1996 to 2011, is making its first trip to Anaheim since 1996.
“I had a great time and memories from there,” Selanne said. “I haven’t really played against them here, so this will be a neat experience. Lot of respect for that place and organization. So happy the city has a team again, they really deserve it.”
FIGHTING RIVALS: Boudreau said the Saturday night scuffling between the Ducks' Pacific Division rivals Calgary and Vancouver was “entertaining.”
Calgary Coach Bob Hartley sent out his so-called goon squad for a game-opening face-off and four fights ensued, with Vancouver Coach John Tortorella ultimately trying to get at Hartley in the Flames’ locker room following the first period. Suspensions followed.
“Every now and again, in all sports, stuff like this happens --– baseball you have a brawl with Pedro Martinez hitting Don Zimmer, brawls on the field in football, Rudy Tomjanovich getting suckered … sports is heated, things go,” Boudreau said.