OTTAWA – The Bruins won’t have a clear picture of their defensemen’s health until they suit up for practice on Friday afternoon, but suffice it to say that they’re still extremely banged up on the back end.
The bad news is that there was no indication that Brandon Carlo (upper body) or Torey Krug (lower body) had started skating back in Boston, or are even a remote possibility for Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.
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The good news is that Colin Miller was spotted walking with a limp around the team hotel on Thursday, but not with a brace or crutches following a nasty leg-on-leg hit with Sens defenseman Mark Borowiecki that knocked him out of Game 1.
Furthermore, Charlie McAvoy stepped in and played 24-plus minutes and filled some of the void with Krug and Carlo out after serving as top-four D-men all season. The Bruins featured a top shutdown pairing of Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid and needed to play McAvoy every one of those minutes, so it's clear the Black and Gold have hit their saturation point with injuries on the back end.
The Bruins have reserve defenseman Joe Morrow with the team if they need a healthy body, though he hasn’t played in an actual game since back in January.
“We have options if [Miller] can’t go. Our first option would be Joe Morrow, who has been here all year and would allow us to balance our left and right sticks. After that it’s the health of the guys that are out and whether they’re going to be any better for Saturday and then there’s the guys in Providence, who have played well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “It’s always been a next man up mentality. If you’re sweater is hanging up and you’re in the lineup, then you’re expected to do your job. Whoever we choose we expect they’ll do it.
“In fairness to Joe, the opportunity to play hasn’t been there as much for Joe as the other guys, but that’s the way it’s played out. When he does get a chance he’s going to have to prove he can stay in the lineup.”
They also could call up Matt Grzelcyk or Tommy Cross from Providence as well, but whatever they do, it’s about Boston’s back end bonding together and fighting through three injuries to B’s defensemen in three straight games.
“A lot of it is communicating out there when you’re playing with different guys at different times out there,” said McQuaid. “I think it’s being supportive of one another while just hoping it’s a trend that doesn’t continue. When you’re focused on the task at hand, you might have to do more some nights than others. If that’s what you’re presented with then that’s what you have to do.”
Best-case scenario is that it’s some kind of knee bruise for Miller and he’s able to play through the pain in Game 2 while keeping the Bruins from needing to dig any deeper into their D-depth just one game into their postseason run.