Though the Kings’ lineup is expected to remain the same from Games 2 and 3, there will be changes in Anaheim’s lineup.
With Matt Beleskey dealing with a lower-body injury, the forward who had been skating to the left of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will be replaced in the lineup by Daniel Winnik. While most teams would be hamstrung if a first line winger were to miss a key playoff game, Anaheim certainly has the depth to feel content with the options at hand – though Winnik is not expected to skate alongside Getzlaf and Perry.
“He’s obviously very comfortable and he hasn’t played that much lately, but he’s a player that takes care of himself very well off the ice,” Andrew Cogliano said of Winnik. “He’s always prepared to play and he’s a true professional. He knows how things go and how things can turn in a hurry. You know you have some injuries and he can come in and be a guy that creates a difference. He’ll be ready. He’s been ready the last little bit to play and it’s good to have him back in the lineup because he’s a strong presence in there.”
Winnik, a defensive forward who amassed six goals and 30 points in 76 regular season games, was held scoreless in five games in the Ducks’ first round series against the Dallas Stars.
Center Mathieu Perrault, who has two goals and four points in eight playoff games, will be a game-time decision tonight. Deemed “day-to-day” after Thursday’s game, Perreault also suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3. Rickard Rakell, who posted a goal and an assist in three games in the Dallas series, would dress if Perreault is unable to play tonight. Expect both to take the ice for warm-ups.
Having led the league with 263 non-shootout goals, Anaheim has relied on depth contributions that should mitigate the loss of key players such as Beleskey and Perreault, if the latter is unable to play.
“Guys carry the third and fourth lines with lots of production,” Cogliano said. “When you have to have scoring and you, have guys playing well throughout the lineup, it adds another element to the team and it can’t be any different tonight obviously.”
In goal, the Ducks have not named a starter, and for the second straight morning skate, both available goaltenders left the ice at relatively the same time. On Saturday, those goalies were Jonas Hiller, who earned the win in relief in Game 3, and John Gibson, who was summoned from AHL-Norfolk because of the lower-body injury suffered by Frederik Andersen on Thursday.
That the Ducks are keeping the Kings guessing on their starter means little to the dressing room down the hall.
“It doesn’t really change much. We approach our game the same way,” Dustin Brown said. “We’re assuming Hiller is going to start just because he’s been in playoff games and the experience of being in those games. We’ve seen all their goalies. We haven’t seen Gibson obviously, but I think we all know that he’s a good young goalie. We’re preparing to play Hiller tonight. Again, we’ve seen Andersen, Hiller all year long.”
Gibson was instrumental in Norfolk’s eight-over-one upset of Manchester in the first round of the AHL Playoffs.
“I have to say that our goalie was unbelievable,” said Sami Vatanen, who also participated in the series. “Gibson played three great games and won those games for us.”
“I don’t think that’s a big thing for him,” Vatanen said about a hypothetical Gibson start. “He’s a mentally tough guy and he’ll just do his own thing and he’s been pretty confident right now. He stopped their many pucks. It’s the same thing. He goes in to do what he can.”
Maroon – Getzlaf – Perry
Winnik – Koivu – Cogliano
Silfverberg – Bonino – Selanne
Smith-Pelly – Rakell – Palmieri
Fowler – Lovejoy
Lindholm – Beauchemin
Allen – Vatanen
For the Kings, no changes are expected.
Gaborik – Kopitar – Brown
Pearson – Carter – Toffoli
King – Stoll – Williams
Clifford – Richards – Lewis
Muzzin – Doughty
Schultz – Voynov
Martinez – Greene