If the Ducks are to even this series up at two games apiece, they will likely have to do so without the services of The Bearded One. Earlier today head coach Randy Carlyle announced that Patrick Eaves is "doubtful" for tonight's pivotal Game 4 at Rogers Place, as the veteran right wing is currently dealing with a lower-body injury.
This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, after all, and players have - and will always - find ways to play through injuries, so we will definitively know Eaves' status once the scratches are announced prior to puck drop.
"Injuries are always a part of the playoffs," said Carlyle. "This is a team game. The strength of your group is usually determined by the number of mistakes you make compared to the number of mistakes the opposition makes. We've been fortunate to survive with some key injuries, but we're going to be tested as every team is going to be tested along the way. I'm sure the Oilers have bumps and bruises and people are hurting."
Corey Perry will likely replace Eaves on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. Though the former 2003 first-round draft picks have been split up for most of the season, perhaps a reunion could rekindle some old chemistry, especially for Perry, who could use a big offensive performance.
Ondrej Kase could also draw into the lineup and slot somewhere in the bottom-six. For what it's worth, he skated alongside Antoine Vermette and Nick Ritchie yesterday during practice in Kelowna, British Columbia. Kase made his NHL playoff debut on April 13 in Game 1 of the First Round against the Calgary Flames, going scoreless in 10:07 TOI.
We'll see if the two days spent away from the city have the same effect it had in 2015 when the Ducks left Calgary for Banff. Ducks left wing Andrew Cogliano believes it will.
"It helps you feel fresh leaving the city and coming back," he said. "Sometimes when you stay in a city and you have some extra days, it wears on you a bit. There is a lot of hockey you think about and a lot of just sitting around. We had a good time in Kelowna. We got together as a team.
"It's all business tonight. We have one game before we go home, and we're going to put everything out there to even this series up."
John Gibson is expected to get the start for Anaheim, while Cam Talbot draws in for Edmonton. Talbot's rough night in Game 3 wasn't the first time he got shellacked in this postseason, which might bode well for the Oilers. After Talbot gave up five goals on 24 shots in an eventual 7-0 loss against San Jose in Game 4 (which evened the series, 2-2), he responded two nights later with a 27-save performance in a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5 and allowed just one goal in the decisive Game 6.
"Cam is a mature goaltender," Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said in his morning presser earlier today. "He's got a real good level of emotional control. He doesn't get too high or low. He accepts responsibility for his performances. He'll come back and play real well tonight."
Win or lose, Oilers captain Connor McDavid says his team needs to prove something tonight. "We have to put together a good game tonight," he told reporters. "Even if we don't win, we have to show we can play with them and dominate them. It's a huge swing game."
Potential Line Combinations
Video: The Ducks look ahead to a crucial Game 4 matchup