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.
BOSTON – It looks like Patrice Bergeron made it through his Game 5 return without any pressing issues or lingering problems that should limit his availability for the last couple of potential games in the best-of-seven series with the Maple Leafs.
Bergeron topped 20 minutes of ice time in the 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in Saturday night’s Game 5 at TD Garden, and had six shots on net, 10 shot attempts, three hits and won 16-of-25 face-offs while being held without any points. There were times where No. 37 looked like he was playing through a little bit of pain, but the numbers certainly don’t back that up as he was still very strong even if he was less than 100 percent.
“I won’t project past Game 6. He made it through [the Game 5 loss] healthy and he finished the game,” said Bruce Cassidy on Saturday night following Game 5. “You always want to see how they are in the morning. I don’t anticipate there will be any issues going into Game 6. Of course, that could change, but that’s the way it is right now.”
Bruce Cassidy indicated after Saturday night’s loss that Bergeron, who has five assists and a plus-3 rating in four games vs. the Leafs, finished the game without issue, and further said at Sunday’s chat with the media that he wasn’t expecting health issues would cause any lineup changes for Monday night’s very important Game 6 in Toronto. Bergeron was also spotted at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon and certainly looked no worse for the wear, so the B’s aren’t bracing for any last minute scratches in a heavy duty playoff game on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre.
“We’ll reassess on [Monday] morning when guys go back on the ice health-wise,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Sometimes they feel good today and then they get on the ice…I don’t anticipate much going on health-wise, but we went up to Toronto [earlier this week] and one game Bergeron didn’t play and then Grzelcyk in another one. So [a change in the lineup] could happen.”
That would indicate Bergeron came through Saturday night’s heavy workload without any further issues, and that perhaps he’s over the hump with whatever upper-body injury caused him to miss a game in the middle of the series. That’s a great sign with the Black and Gold in serious need of all hands on deck for another chance to eliminate the Maple Leafs on Monday night in Toronto.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while spring appears to finally be arriving in Boston.
*Some solid war stories from the NHL penalty box compiled by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt at Sports Illustrated.
*Keeping an eye on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and rookie D-man Mikhail Sergachev is enjoying a strong playoff series for the Bolts as they advanced past the New Jersey Devils this weekend.
*Nazem Kadri definitely helped make a difference for the Maple Leafs in Game 5 at the Garden, and Toronto is going to need more of that if they’re going to force a Game 7.
*The Philadelphia Flyers are finally ratcheting up some drama with the Penguins in their first-round series.
*Good memories from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Goucher out in Vegas as he talks about Gil Santos at the time of the New England sports legend’s passing this week.
*For something completely different: When you’re writing think pieces about Adam Sandler, it may be time to reevaluate things.