Rightfully so, too.
He was Nashville’s leading point producer this postseason, playing a critical role as the middle man on the Predators’ top line and in the team’s first-ever trip to the Western Conference Final.
As stated plenty of times over by now, this is a huge loss for the Predators — especially now, when they’re two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final. With this series between the Ducks and Predators tied 2-2, Game 5 goes Saturday in Anaheim.
However, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle would like to point out that his team has been without Patrick Eaves and his offensive capabilities since Game 3 of the second round.
Anaheim acquired the 33-year-old right winger prior to the trade deadline and Eaves was an instant fit in the Ducks’ lineup. In 20 regular season games with the Ducks, he had 11 goals and 14 points. In seven playoff games, he had two goals and four points.
If you were expecting even an ounce of compassion from Carlyle toward the Predators after losing Johansen, well, it’s not happening.
“I think what happens is, when you lose players, it’s part of life in the playoffs,” said Carlyle on Saturday.
“We lost a pretty good player in Patrick Eaves. You guys seem to forget about that. He was one of our top goal scorers, maybe one of our best players since the trade deadline. Reignited our offense.
“So what we tried to do is you try to do it by committee. Because one player is not going to replace Patrick Eaves. And we know that. So it gives other people an opportunity to get some minutes maybe they wouldn’t normally get. And that’s the way you treat it.”
For the Predators, the question marks at center go beyond missing Johansen. Mike Fisher was hurt in Game 4 and Nashville’s coach Peter Laviolette didn’t want to discuss his status prior to puck drop Saturday. At this point, it’s not yet known if Fisher will play in Game 5.
As for Eaves and his status, Carlyle provided a promising update.
“He’s, actually, I think skating right now. So he’s testing it,” said Carlyle. “And obviously that’s a good sign when we have players on the ice. It means they’re one step closer to joining our lineup.”