Bruins

Bruins' key fourth liner Sean Kuraly set to return in Game 5

Bruins' key fourth liner Sean Kuraly set to return in Game 5

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins will get their fourth line reunited in Game 5 for the first time during these Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it could be a difference-maker for them.

After missing the first four postseason games with a fractured right hand that was still healing, Sean Kuraly has been cleared and is ready to go for Friday night’s Game 5 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

“I feel good. I feel back to 100 percent and looking forward to get going,” said Kuraly, who finished with eight goals and 21 points in 71 games this season. “I just want to keep it simple and not over-complicate things…take away time and space and be physical when I can, have a good stick when I can and get up and down the ice as well.

“There will definitely be energy. That’s what my job is and that’s expected of me, to bring energy, so luckily I’ve got a little bit of that.”

Joakim Nordstrom will be the scratch for the B’s after netting an empty net goal on Monday night in Toronto. The Bruins fourth line struggled in Boston’s Game 4 win over the Leafs while getting hemmed into their zone quite a bit, and that’s an area where Bruce Cassidy feels like the Bruins will get a boost from Kuraly drawing back in.

“They were really good all year for us and Sean is a big part of that,” said Cassidy. “He’s a bit undervalued on paper, but he’s a guy that can get to loose pucks in our end and get it out of the zone. That’s what we missed [in Game 4] and he’s good at protecting the puck down low in their zone. He’s certainly a guy that’s hard to get the puck from when he’s on, and that certainly compliments [Chris] Wagner and [Noel] Acciari that can go to the net and win the puck battles for second chances. That’s what they do well.

“Sean holds it for them and allows some separation. That’s why they’re good in the D-zone because they play in the O-zone. They’ve done a good job of tilting the ice so we can get our offensive players out there. He’s hard to play against. His last two playoffs have been very good offensively and we’d love that to happen [again].”

With a reunited fourth line, here’s a projected look at the line combos and D-pairings after an optional morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Johansson-Coyle-Backes

Kuraly-Acciari-Wagner

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Moore

 

Rask 

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Brad Marchand: David Backes has 'been such a huge part of our group'

Brad Marchand: David Backes has 'been such a huge part of our group'

David Backes broke into the NHL in 2006. In 2019, he will get his first chance to play in a Stanley Cup Final.

Backes has been understandably emotional about making it to the Final, and his teammates have had nothing but good things to say about the veteran's performance during the playoffs.

"It's awesome to see the passion and emotion that he had on his face after (Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final)," said Brad Marchand per Eric Russo of BostonBruins.com. "He's been such a huge part of our group. He's such a great leader and we build so much emotion off the way that he plays. He's just such a phenomenal guy, great teammate, and he's had an incredible career.

"When you see a guy that's been around that long, he has an opportunity to play for a Cup, finally has that opportunity, it's a lot of emotion. [Patrice Bergeron] said it before. When you play in this league for a long time, you start to appreciate and understand how hard it is to win and how few opportunities you get to win the Cup."

And Marchand and Bergeron would know about that. After playing for the Cup in 2011 and 2013, the duo hadn't been back to the Final until this point. But their six-year absence pales in comparison to Backes' lack of an appearance until his 13th year in the league.

To his credit, Backes has been nothing but a model teammate this year. He struggled to a career-low 20 points in 70 regular season games and was constantly moving around in Bruce Cassidy's line combinations. But he embraced the challenge and stayed ready for action at any time, especially in the playoffs.

This postseason, Backes has logged five points in 11 games and helped the Bruins to a 9-2 record in contests he has played. The team is 3-3 without him, and it has been easy to see that the Bruins are better and more poised with the veteran in the lineup.

Oddly enough, Backes may end up play against his former team, the St. Louis Blues, in his first Stanley Cup appearance. But Backes was adamant that playing the Blues wouldn't have an impact on him.

"Wishing St. Louis well, but once our opponent is picked those well wishes will be rescinded and it's on," said Backes, per Russo. "We'll see who it is and we'll be prepared for it."

It sounds like Backes is planning on bringing emotion to the ice to continue motivating his Bruins teammates. We'll soon get to see him in action.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final will take place on Monday, May 27 at 8:00 p.m. The game can be seen on NBC and streamed on the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the Stanley Cup TV schedule>>>

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Rask not worried about long layoff before Stanley Cup Final

Rask not worried about long layoff before Stanley Cup Final

After the Boston Bruins swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games in the Eastern Conference Final, they were awarded a lengthy rest period. In fact, they ended up with the longest pre-Stanley Cup layoff in NHL history. They will be out of action for 11 days before they begin Game 1 of the Cup Final on Monday, May 27.

Despite the long layoff, Bruins players haven't seemed concerned about it. And goalie Tuukka Rask is among them. Rask wasn't too worried about time off when asked about the potential effects it could have on him in an interview captured by the Boston Bruins Twitter account.

It’s only as big of a challenge I guess that you make it for yourself. I just practice when we practice and then take time off when there’s days off. I think that’s it. I don’t think about hockey every day, all day. I don’t think that’s gonna do any good. I just stay sharp on the ice, do the work you need to do and then play when the puck drops. That’s about it.

That's a good attitude to have, and it's easy to see why Rask is so confident. So far this postseason, Rask has been terrific, logging a 12-5 record, a .942 save percentage, and a sterling 1.84 goals against average. But time off could impact his rhythm so the team will look to keep him sharp in the coming week.

Rask also addressed whether or not his teammates were actually giving him the silent treatment to avoid breaking his concentration.

No, I think they're just joking around. I've never really seen that.

Even if the team had been giving him the silent treatment in-game, it's unlikely that they would be able to continue that for 10 days ahead of the Stanley Cup Final. It's simply too much time to totally ignore a teammate.

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