No return for Krug, Carlo or McQuaid for Bruins' do-or-die Game 5

No return for Krug, Carlo or McQuaid for Bruins' do-or-die Game 5

BRIGHTON, Mass – It looks like the Bruins won’t be getting any additional defensemen help as they head into a do-or-die Game 5 vs. the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Friday night.

Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said on Thursday that he isn’t expecting Adam McQuaid (upper body), Torey Krug (lower body) or Brandon Carlo (upper body) to recover in time to play with the B’s down 3-1 in the series. That means at least one more game where the B’s are down three of their top-four defensemen from the regular season.

Carlo is the closest to returning while skating on his own over the past week or so, but he hasn’t reached the point where he’d even be a game-time decision.

“There are guys progressing [from their injuries] certainly, but to say in 24 hours that you could have some people available? I would say no,” said Cassidy, who had Colin Miller, Tommy Cross, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson practicing at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday morning. “Guys realize [Game 4] was another game that could have gone either way, and they just made one more play than us. Going forward we have a game [on Friday night] where we need to be a little better in certain areas, and make that extra play. It’s the one game at a time stuff that we do around here; we’ve kind of had that mentality all year.”

Clearly, defense hasn’t been a huge issue with Boston surrendering only 10 goals in the four games against Ottawa, and each of their three losses to the Sens in the playoffs have been by a single goal. Still, D-men Carlo and Krug played big minutes all season for Boston, and helped the group move the puck up the ice in situations like Game 4 where they struggled with just 10 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes.  

The loss of Carlo and McQuaid also greatly impacts Boston’s ability to block shots in crucial moments and kill penalties that have allowed Erik Karlsson to wheel and deal for Ottawa on the man-advantage. D-men Joe Morrow and John-Michael Liles are being counted on as key players for Boston after being extra bodies all season and 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy and 40-year-old Zdeno Chara are at both ends of the spectrum logging big minutes for the Black and Gold.

It’s resulted in breakdowns from time-to-time and certainly played into the Bruins slogging through quicksand vs. Ottawa in the neutral zone in the second and third period of Game 4 after getting their chances early in the game. It’s perhaps surprising that Ottawa hasn’t been able to get more separation from such an undermanned B’s unit for the bulk of this series, but it’s also true that the Senators are looking to apply the 1-3-1 sleeper hold on their opponents pretty much as soon as they gain an advantage over a wounded opponent in these playoff games.  


Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday


Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:




Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain


Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.