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.