Based off line rushes this morning and comments made by head coach Randy Carlyle, Hampus Lindholm's season debut will have to wait until next time.
Carlyle said there wouldn't be any changes on defense in terms of the seven active defensemen currently on the roster. "That's not going to happen tonight," he said to reporters today, when asked if any d-men could make their season debuts. "What you see is what we get."
It does appear that Ondrej Kase is returning to the lineup tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. The speedy winger, who has missed three consecutive games with an upper-body injury, skated on a line with Nick Ritchie and Derek Grant this morning. At the very least, his presence in the lineup will give the Ducks a scoring threat. The Ducks enter tonight's game ranked second-to-last in average goals scored per game (2.00), just ahead of last-place Montreal (1.43).
"We haven't been playing up to our potential, but we've had some good days of practice," said Ritchie. "I think we'll be ready to go tonight. It's a big game for us - home game off a couple of bad games. We're looking to really come out and play a full 60 [minutes] instead of playing bits a pieces like we have been in the other games. They've struggled. We've struggled. This has the making for a really good game. We want to be the aggressive team."
With the club's first extended road trip on the horizon, the importance of tonight's game looms large.
"No matter who we play, when we're at home, we should establish home ice in terms of coming out with a purpose and coming out with energy," said Andrew Cogliano. "We haven't started great by any means this year. This is a big game for them, and it's a big game for us. We're not playing that good at the moment. This is a big game for us because we're going on the road for four games. We want to establish a good work ethic tonight, get back to our game and feel good about ourselves."
John Gibson will make his seventh consecutive start tonight with Reto Berra likely serving as his backup.
Carey Price is expected to get the start in goal for the Canadiens, who enter tonight's game on a six-game losing streak (five in regulation). This is the finale of a three-game California trip that began with a 5-2 loss at San Jose on Tuesday and a 5-1 defeat on Wednesday at LA. Jonathan Drouin paces the team in scoring with five points (2g/3a) in seven games, and is expected to center a line with captain Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk.
Projected Line Combinations
Hudon-De La Rose-Gallagher
Video: The Ducks look ahead to their meeting with Montreal