Ducks: Toni Lydman set for return

ANAHEIM -- Decision day for Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman is still a day away, but after Thursday’s practice at Honda Center he was optimistic he’d be in the lineup for Friday’s home opener against the San Jose Sharks.

“So far, so good,” he reported.

Lydman underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and spent training camp and the first two regular-season games recuperating. That meant missing the season opener last Friday in his native Finland, but the 34-year-old veteran wasn’t willing to push his return to please the fans back home.

“My mindset has been all along to get healthy first and do the right thing,” he said. “If it’s not good then I can’t really say I can help the team either.”

Lydman was one of the top defensive-minded blue liners in the league last season, finishing tied for second with a plus-32 in the plus-minus category and sixth in blocked shots. He said the next big hurdle will be absorbing the first hit in a game situation.

“If you’re fine after that, it gives you confidence, then you don’t worry about it anymore,” he said. “Even last year, when I had that double-vision thing going on, going back and getting into that first battle is when you actually feel good about yourself playing again.”

Another defenseman who’s on the mend, Kurtis Foster, was assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse for conditioning, the club announced Thursday.

Foster, who underwent a surgical procedure during training camp to have a piece of wire removed from his thigh that was left over from a previous operation, will play games with the Crunch on Friday and Saturday and possibly return for Sunday’s skate-around before Anaheim's game that night against visiting St. Louis.

Foster could be cleared to play as soon as Monday’s game in San Jose, coach Randy Carlyle said.

“If he gets through those games down there [in Syracuse], then he’s an option for us in San Jose,” Carlyle said. “But until he feels he’s up to speed, then we don’t feel we can use the player because, specifically, he had no training camp.”