In the hours leading up to a pivotal Game 5 here at Honda Center, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle announced that forwards Patrick Eaves and Ondrej Kase will not play tonight. Nor will defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who skated prior to the rest of the team today. Eaves missed Game 4 on Wednesday with a lower-body injury and Kase was injured on his fourth shift that night - a lower-body ailment that needed further evaluation yesterday.
With the injuries up front, rookie forward Nic Kerdiles could make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut tonight in front of the hometown fans. The 23-year-old winger was raised in Irvine and made his NHL debut on February 22 vs. Boston, becoming the first player from Orange County to play for the Ducks. Kerdiles emerged as a dominant player for the San Diego Gulls in their First Round win over the Ontario Reign, finishing the five-game series with six points (3g/3a). He ranked tied for second in the AHL in scoring and tied for fourth in goals during the postseason.
"Mindset is to be simple and not overdo it," he said today. "It's a big game, so nerves could be a factor sometimes. I've been playing well in San Diego, so I'm going to translate my game up here. Whatever position I get thrown into, I'm going to make sure to play simple, play hard and be defensive-minded."
It remains to be seen where Kerdiles slots in (if he does) because of the optional skate earlier today. Kerdiles played primarily left wing with the Gulls but also saw time up the middle. If he ends up playing left wing tonight, he could theoretically skate on the fourth line with center Nate Thompson and right wing Logan Shaw, while Chris Wagner gets bumped up to the third line to play on his strong side with left wing Nick Ritchie and center Antoine Vermette. Of course, Carlyle could opt to use right wing Jared Boll, if he chooses. Boll made his postseason debut with Anaheim in Game 2 against the Oilers on April 28.
John Gibson will likely get the start tonight against Cam Talbot. No lineup changes are expected for Edmonton.
The Ducks proved they could win in Edmonton. Now they have to prove they can win in their own house. "They came in here and took two games from us, so we have to make sure we come prepared tonight," said Jakob Silfverberg, who has five goals in the first four games of this series. "Have a better start than last game and keep pushing from there. We need more traffic in front of the net. Talbot is a great goalie. We did a pretty good job of that in the two games in Edmonton, but we didn't really have that drive to the net in the first two games here."
According to Elias, when teams are tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series, the winner of Game 5 holds an all-time series record of 196-54 (78.7%), including a 3-0 mark in 2017.
Potential Line Combinations
Video: The Ducks look ahead to a pivotal Game 5