Bruins

Bruins term Johansson, Moore game-time decisions for Game 4 vs. Leafs

Bruins term Johansson, Moore game-time decisions for Game 4 vs. Leafs

TORONTO – A couple of the walking wounded may be returning for Game 4 of the Bruins playoff series as both John Moore (upper body) and Marcus Johansson (illness) made it through a full team practice, and are expected to suit up on Wednesday night. Johansson skated left wing on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen during Tuesday afternoon’s practice at the Coca-Cola Coliseum, home of the Toronto Marlies, and it looked like Moore would be naturally subbing in for Steve Kampfer on Boston’s third pairing.

Moore has missed more than three weeks with his injury and would be making his B's postseason debut if he suits up for Game 4. 

“[Johansson] made it through practice and gave a little bit extra, so he’s obviously feeling better. It looks like he has some color again. But until he shows up tomorrow healthy he’ll be a game-time decision, but it’s encouraging at least that he’s working with the group,” said Bruce Cassidy. “[Sean} Kuraly will not go in [for Game 4]. He’s not ready to play yet. He’s still working on it. John Moore went through the whole practice wearing a normal-colored jersey. So it’s encouraging again. If he goes through tomorrow with no ill effects then he could be a game-time decision as well.”

Johansson said it was really bad timing to fall sick right during Stanley Cup Playoffs and didn’t even fly to join the team until Monday afternoon after missing the last two postseason games.

“I feel a lot better,” said Johansson. “I just got sick real bad. There’s not much you can do about it. It is what it is… just bad timing. It’s not a fun part of the year to get that, but I’m feeling better now. So I’m good to be here with the team and skate.”

Connor Clifton also returned to practice with the Bruins on Tuesday, but the B’s rookie defenseman was in a no-contact jersey and didn’t appear likely to be drawing back in to Game 4.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice with David Backes appearing to be odd man out up front, but Cassidy was quick to stress that the B’s wouldn’t be making that decision until game time:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Acciari-Wagner

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Moore

 

Rask 

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Bruins admit there will be 'challenges' to keep Rask in the zone after long layoff

Bruins admit there will be 'challenges' to keep Rask in the zone after long layoff

BRIGHTON, Mass – For most members of the Bruins, the 10-day reprieve between the Eastern Conference Final and the Stanley Cup Final is going to be a very good thing for healing bumps and bruises, and for recharging the batteries after playing 18 bruising postseason games in the first three rounds.

Interestingly enough the Bruins indicated they’ll be scrimmaging to stay sharp with pseudo-game conditions, and they will also hit the New England Patriots for advice about the two weeks spent preparing for the Super Bowl. But even the largest amount of rust will probably be gone for most players after the first period of Game 1 at TD Garden regardless of the opponent.

“Ultimately it will be up to him about getting a read on where the players are, first of all mentally and physically. We’ve given them the first couple days off, we’re going to practice for a couple days,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “We now know the schedule, so we can start to forecast. A little bit depends on where the players are at.

“[Zdeno Chara] missed the final game. We have to give guys the appropriate time to recover and then go to work. I think our guys know how to practice. We’re a team that likes to practice, except for [David Krejci], who has publicly stated that he doesn’t like to practice. But I think this time of the year he’ll show up and practice accordingly.”

The one exception to all of this could be Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has been “in the zone” for the first three rounds of the postseason while leading all players as the top candidate for the Conn Smythe Award this spring. Rask is an amazing 12-5-0 in 17 games with a 1.84 goals against average and a .942 save percentage, and is coming off a blistering .956 save percentage in the Eastern Conference Final sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.

He’s consistently been Boston’s best player throughout the postseason, and will need to be in the Stanley Cup Final if the Bruins hope to win it all. There’s also the unique challenge for the Bruins of ways to keep Rask “in the zone” even though he’s going to go almost two weeks between playoff games, and that’s something the B’s acknowledged as they rested this weekend after capturing the Eastern Conference.

“I think Tuukka missed, when he was concussed, I think he missed quite a bit of time then came back and played well,” said Sweeney. “He’s in a really good place, a really good place mentally and physically and his routines. He’s gone out game days. In the past, he hasn’t. He’s gone out for specific reasons. I think he’ll continue to do those things. It’s just the game, to get into the flow of the game and speed of the game you can’t ever simulate, so there will be challenges, certainly. Tuukka is in a really good place, and I expect him to return there.”

Certainly the Black and Gold will need him "to return there" if they hope to come home with the Cup. 

As Sweeney referenced, Rask missed 11 days sandwiched around the week-long bye and NHL All-Star weekend after getting concussed in a collision at the net with Filip Chytil, and then made 38 saves in a 3-2 OT loss to the Flyers when he did return from the long layoff. So there’s hope that Rask can stay dialed in despite the lengthy break in between series, but it won’t be a lockdown certainty until things get going with either the Sharks or the Blues on May 27 at TD Garden for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Until then the B’s coaching staff has to work on keeping the team as sharp as possible, and hope that Rask remains “in the zone” for at least another three weeks. 

Bruins will seek advice from Patriots about long layoff>>> 

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Bruins will seek advice from Patriots on how to handle long layoff

Bruins will seek advice from Patriots on how to handle long layoff

With an 11-day gap between taking the ice for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Final sweep of the Hurricanes and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, it'll be much like another long wait between conference title game and championship that a New England team regularly has to deal with.

See where we're going with this?

Bruins GM Don Sweeney said Saturday he'll be reaching out to a "local team" that has been fairly successful handling long layoffs leading up to their title game.  

Hmmm, who could that be? 

"There's different sports, there's crossovers that we've all kind of identified that we're going to tap into. There's a local team that had time between when they were going to Super Bowls," Sweeney said. "So, we are going to look at different resources that have done it and done it well."

Of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Sweeney said he doesn't know him well but, "I have a hell of a lot of respect for the man. I think we're going to reach out to their group and see if we can tap into...we look at everybody's assets in that way and hopefully they'll be able to share some information with us."

Sweeney said the Bruins have given players a couple of days off after wrapping up the Eastern Conference Final Thursday night and will practice for a few days and leave decisions on if and when to have scrimmages up to coach Bruce Cassidy. 

On Friday, Cassidy mentioned perhaps scrimmaging one day leading up the Game 1 on May 27 at TD Garden against either the San Jose Sharks or St. Louis Blues, whose Western Conference Final is tied at 2 with Game 5 on Sunday afternoon in San Jose.

"We do have the Black Aces [a group of Providence Bruins], do we scrimmage one day to keep the edge?" Cassidy asked rhetorically. But even then, if you scrimmage are guys really gonna be physical against one another? They're not."

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