LOS ANGELES — Rumor has it, the Ducks are becoming the most interesting team in hockey.
Saturday morning’s skate only served to bolster that reputation as a third goalie was introduced and head coach Bruce Boudreau announced more lineup changes on the way.
Left winger Matt Beleskey and goaltender Frederik Andersen are listed as day-to-day and will not play Saturday night. Mathieu Perreault is a game-time decision.
Center Daniel Winnik, who has not played the last four games, will play tonight and another center, Rickard Rakell, may play as well. Goaltender John Gibson was recalled from the AHL yesterday and skated with the team today, but once again Boudreau gave no indication which goalie will start.
"It’s tempting (to start Gibson). He’s a good goalie and in the future he’s going to be a tremendous goalie," Boudreau said. "Don’t know if he’s today’s goalie."
"I don’t see Gibson going in, personally," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. "I think it will be Hiller, he did a pretty good job last game in the third after not playing for 50 minutes. I don’t see Gibson coming in but hopefully we can push Hiller out and make (Gibson) come in late."
"We’re preparing for Hiller," said Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown.
Winnik scored six goals with 24 assists and had a plus-6 rating in 76 regular season games. He did not score a point in any of the five postseason games he logged time in.
"I’ve just been sitting and waiting, trying to get my opportunity to get back in," Winnik said. "I think that’s the biggest thing and not be uptight. I’ve been in a situation before where you haven’t played for a while and then you kind of get a little uptight with the puck and tend to chip it a lot more than you should."
Boudreau gave no indication of what line Winnik would play on but he has seen significant action against the opposition’s top lines all season.
"I enjoy it. I find it a challenge every night to shut their top guys down," Winnik said. "It’s an important way for us to win games too."
"I expect him to be his best, when he’s at his best he’s a really good player," Boudreau said. "When he’s not at his best he’s sometimes not engaged, that type-thing. But I got to believe sitting four games out, which is the longest of his season or his tenure with me anyway, that he’s going to be real hungry and he’s going to put forth a great game."
Other morning skate notes
By comparison, the Kings might be downright boring compared to the Ducks when it comes to mixing things up. Head coach Darryl Sutter hasn’t changed the line rushes since the postseason began and they remained the same once again at Saturday’s morning skate.
The Kings’ defense is the only aspect of the game that Sutter has been forced to change with Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr both still out.
"It’s challenging for us to lose left-side D," Sutter said. "Drew and Slava (Voynov) don’t play the left side, so that’s the challenge you’re facing in this series. It’s not so much Drew. You know how Drew’s going to play, and the minutes he’s going to play. It doesn’t change the situations. It’s basically every other shift."
The one defenseman the Kings cannot afford to lose is Doughty.
"If you look at two of the goals scored against us in the series, they were 4-on-3s against us, and Drew’s in the penalty box," Sutter said. "It tells you how important he is, when you do that."
"He’s able to control the play like very few people can," Brown said. "It’s more so the impact he has on the other team knowing that he’s out there."