The Montreal Canadiens will not have the services of three of their top six defencemen for Wednesday night's potential elimination game against the Boston Bruins (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
The Canadiens trail the Bruins 3-0 in the best-of-seven series and face a must-win situation, but they'll have to stave off elimination without defenceman Andrei Markov (injured knee) Mathieu Schneider (shoulder) and Patrice Brisebois (lower body injury).
Defenceman Francis Bouillon (torn groin) is also out, while veteran winger Alex Tanguay remains a game-time decision.
Markov missed the final four regular-season games and the first three games of the playoffs. Tanguay sat out Game 3 with an upper body injury and did not take part in the team's skate Wednesday morning.
Even though Bob Gainey will be minus his three best defenceman, the Canadiens coach is seeing the silver lining of the situation, pointing out that some of the organization's young players such as Yannick Weber, Matt D'Agostini, Gregory Stewart and Ryan O'Byrne are getting a chance to see what the playoffs are all about.
"This is great experience for our team," Gainey said after the team's Wednesday morning skate. "We're seeing great competition at the best time of the year by players who are going to be playing here for years, and we should savour it."
Gainey confirmed that goaltender Carey Price will start the game despite his 4.15 goals against average and .882 save percentage, the worst numbers of any playoff goalie.
His backup, Jaroslav Halak, has not started a game since April 6, and he lost four of his last six starts in the regular season.
On the Boston side, head coach Claude Julien said he'll need the afternoon to figure out who will have to give up his spot to make room for Milan Lucic, back from a one-game suspension for a cross-check to the head of Maxim Lapierre.
Julien had replaced Lucic by putting Blake Wheeler on a line with David Krejci and Michael Ryder, and he said he's not sure where Lucic will be re-inserted.
"Milan will be in the lineup," Julien said. "But as far as where he plays, I'm going to bounce a few things around this afternoon."
Game 5, if necessary, goes Saturday in Boston (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).