With the Western Conference finals between the Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks tied at two games apiece, the strongest candidates to crack a lineup that has remained the same through the first four games are forward Tomas Fleischmann and defenseman James Wisniewski.
“We didn’t tell anybody [who appeared for warmups] this morning that they’re definitively playing, so everybody’s coming prepared to play,” Boudreau said after an optional Monday morning skate. The game that starts at 6 p.m.
Fleischmann, 31, has played in four playoff games this season. The trade-deadline acquisition from Florida has one assist, and the Ducks were 4-0 in the games he played.
“He’s an option. What he brings is experience. He’s been through these wars, played in these games, and earlier on in the playoffs, he was very good,” said Boudreau, with the possible change most likely to result in the benching of younger Jiri Sekac, who has no points and three shots through the four games.
Wisniewski hasn’t played in the postseason. He was the Ducks’ top trade-deadline acquisition and was one of the NHL’s most productive power-play scorers from the blue line during the regular season.
“It is easier to put in a forward than a defenseman, but [Wisniewski] is an option,” Boudreau said.
MORE RESOLVE NEEDED: The Ducks’ ability to bounce back after defeat defined their regular season, in which they earned the top seed in the Western Conference and gained the home-ice advantage they’ll lean on in what’s now a best-of-three series.
Defenseman Hampus Lindholm said that after the Ducks allowed five goals Saturday in a double-overtime Game 4 loss in Chicago, his team “has to be aware of our mistakes, and keep pushing to play our game.”
The Ducks haven’t lost a regulation game in the postseason and are 6-1 at Honda Center.
“We’re a determined group, that was a blip on the radar and it won’t happen again,” Lindholm said of the Game 4 defensive lapses. “We need to come out … and show them that was a one-time thing.”
HIGH RATINGS: NBC reported that Game 4 delivered a 2.24 rating, the best in the playoffs this season. It's also the most-viewed conference finals game since Chicago’s double-overtime clinching victory over the Kings on June 8, 2013.
That game, in which the Blackhawks eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champions with a Patrick Kane goal en route to their own Cup, drew a 2.89 rating.
Another strong rating is expected tonight as the game closes Memorial Day weekend.
“Good teams hate to lose and Chicago knows how to finish, so that’s what makes this a great battle tonight,” Boudreau said.