Line rushes this morning remained unchanged for the Ducks, which means two key players are expected to return to the lineup when they take on the Flyers tonight in Philadelphia.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf centered the top line with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, and Hampus Lindholm took rushes alongside familiar d-partner Josh Manson. Getzlaf has only appeared in two games this season, while tonight will mark Lindholm's season debut.
There will be a bit of a shuffle on the blueline for the Flyers, who will be without veteran Andrew MacDonald for several weeks due to a lower-body injury suffered on Saturday vs. Edmonton. With the 31-year-old defenseman out, Philadelphia's d-corps got a heckuva lot younger. Of the six active d-men on its roster, Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning, both 27, are the oldest. Ivan Provorov is 20, Travis Sanheim is 21, Robert Hagg is 22 and Shayne Gostisbehere is 24.
"We don't want to get ourselves behind the eight-ball against a team that is going to really come with four guys all night," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "They will involve their D in most of the offensive zone, probably as aggressive of a team as we've seen all year as far as involving five guys. We're going to have to be prepared for that."
The quick start Anaheim had in its game against the Montreal Canadiens last Friday is exactly the way Carlyle wants his club to attack the Flyers tonight. The Ducks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 3:36 of the period and finished with a 3-0 cushion, in what ended up being a 6-2 victory.
Circumstances are a bit different this time around. The Canadiens appeared to be a fragile bunch, entering the game with six consecutive losses. The Flyers, meanwhile, have outscored their opponents, 15-5, in their past four games (all on home ice) and have won three of them. Philadelphia enters tonight's game with a 5-3-0 record (third in the Metropolitan Division), one point behind second-place Pittsburgh and two points back of first-place New Jersey. But regardless of the opponent, the message is simple: Come out of the gates flying.
"It's always a much more enjoyable time to start with a bang," Carlyle said to reporters today. "What we've tried to sell to our players, and what we've pleaded and shown, and will continue to provide, was our start we had against Montreal in our own building. We're going to have to play 60 minutes like that when you get out on the road."
The Ducks will lean on John Gibson for the eighth consecutive game. Gibson was sensational in the victory over the Canadiens, stopping 49 of 51 shots overall, including 28 in the second period - the most of any goaltender in a single period in franchise history. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native comes in with a 3-2-1 record, 2.55 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. Philadelphia will counter with veteran goatender Brian Elliott. The 32-year-old netminder has been good in this first season with the Flyers, going 4-1-0 with a 2.80 GAA and .897 SV% in five appearances.
Carlyle on Eaves
Earlier today, Carlyle was asked what it has been like processing the news that Patrick Eaves has been diagnosed with what is suspected to be Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
"These are difficult times," Carlyle said to reporters. "This is the human side. Everybody is vulnerable. Our focus shifts to him and his family. What has happened to him is unfortunate, but he is on the road to recovery. First and only, we wish him the best. He has to take the proper time that is necessary for his body to heal before we can even look into him coming back and joining our hockey club.
"It was scary for the first bit, as everybody didn't know what was going on," Carlyle added. "Once the diagnosis was in place, and they started the medication, it's made a world of difference. That is the most positive thing you can derive out of it."
Eaves is currently resting comfortably in stable condition at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.
Projected Line Combinations