Bruins

Krug done for the rest of Lightning series with left ankle injury

Krug done for the rest of Lightning series with left ankle injury

The uphill climb for the Bruins in their second-round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning just got a little tougher with the news that defenseman Torey Krug's series is over. Krug was knocked out of Friday night’s Game 4 in the third period when he was pushed from behind into the corner boards by Tampa forward Alex Killorn and was spotted leaving TD Garden postgame outfitted in a walking boot and crutches.

The Bruins D-man was initially just ruled out of Sunday’s Game 5 when Bruce Cassidy spoke with reporters on Saturday afternoon, but the Bruins later released a statement from B’s team doctor Peter Asnis that erased any chances of him playing over the next three possible games against Tampa Bay should Boston win out. Krug suffered a left ankle injury that actually looked pretty nasty when watching the replays of his feet-first tumble into the boards, and the Bruins medical staff will need the few days to determine the severity of the injury. 

“Torey Krug injured his left ankle during Game 4 of the second round playoff series on Friday, May 4,” said Asnis in the statement. “He will not be available for the remainder of this series as he undergoes additional testing to determine the full extent of the injury.  Further information will be made available after all testing is complete.”

Even if the Bruins were to somehow come back from down 3-1 in the series, the likelihood is that Krug is done for the postseason with a substantial ankle injury and that the B’s are going to need to make up for his absence. That’s a tall order given that Krug is their best offensive D-man and the top scorer (three goals and 12 points in 11 games) from the back end in this spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs, and that he plays a key role working the point on Boston’s deadly top power-play unit.

During this series in particular, the Bruins PP is important to the success they’re going to have against the Lightning, and losing one of their big PP cogs could really foul up the special teams chemistry they’ve built over the last few months. 

The Bruins will insert Nick Holden into the lineup as a viable substitute given his offensive PP skills and his ability as a top-4 D-man with the Rangers and Wild over the last handful of years, but it’s clear that the Bruins are going to miss Krug’s explosive offense, and the big minutes he can absorb, in a big, big way.   

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Krejci (upper body) out for Sunday afternoon game vs Penguins

Krejci (upper body) out for Sunday afternoon game vs Penguins

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins will be without playmaking center David Krejci again on Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins as he’s been ruled out for the second half of the home-and-home series against Pittsburgh. 

It’s believed to be a lower-back issue for Krejci, 33, something he’s battled the past few years. He also missed the B's win Thursday over Pittsburgh in Boston.

The hope is that Krejci will feel good enough to play in the Tuesday pre-All-Star break finale against the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of a 10-day break around the bye week and All-Star weekend, then again an extended rest period of more than two weeks for the veteran second-line center might not be the worst thing in the world either.

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“He’s not traveling. He didn’t skate today so he doesn’t have a chance to play [on Sunday],” coach Bruce Cassidy of Krejci, who has 11 goals and 32 points in 41 games this season, but will miss his ninth game of the season due to injuries on Sunday. “We’ll look at Tuesday if he’ll skate on Monday, but then it becomes an issue of are you better off just getting a whole break in there. If he can come in and skate [on Monday] then that would be a good measure for [his readiness for] Tuesday.”

Charlie Coyle will bump up in his place between Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork and Par Lindholm will enter the lineup as a third-line center with Krejci still injured. It should be the same exact lineup as the one that scored a convincing 4-1 win over the Penguins on Thursday night.

Ahead of practice on Saturday the Bruins also recalled 6-foot-5 goaltending prospect Dan Vladar and Max Lagace was sent back down to Providence after he stopped 24 of 26 shots in the P-Bruins' 2-1 loss to Bridgeport on Friday night.  

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Penguins based on Saturday practice at Warrior Ice Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Coyle-Bjork

Heinen-Lindholm-Kuhlman

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Wagner

 
Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Moore


Halak

Kuhlman jumps back in and helps Bruins while 'keeping it simple'

Kuhlman jumps back in and helps Bruins while 'keeping it simple'

The Bruins immediately went the speed and skill route after removing Brett Ritchie from the roster with Karson Kuhlman notching a pair of assists in a big win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kuhlman finished with the two helpers and a plus-2 rating in just 9:56 of ice time in his first NHL appearance since he broke a bone in his leg back in mid-October. 

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It was obviously a promising start for Kuhlman in his second go-around with the Bruins this season and he immediately showed some chemistry with the second- and third-line forwards he was paired with throughout the 4-1 win on Thursday night. It’s now up to Kuhlman to keep it up after showing in the past that his game fades a bit once he plays a few games in a row and enters back into the grind of the NHL.

His speed and tenacity could help the Bruins in the short term, but only if he’s got the ability to play that way just about every night.

“What I like about [Karson] Kuhlman is what I’ve always said, is that he can sit for stretches. You know, you get into those power plays and he doesn’t get that many minutes, and his motor gets zero to sixty in a hurry,” said Bruce Cassidy. “The bigger-body guys, they just naturally have a tougher time with that when they sit, it just tends to be the way it is. So, that’s one thing we’ve always liked about Kuhly — he can get up, get motor, get on pucks, get on defense, win some races.

“I mean, tonight [Thursday] he obviously chipped in a little bit of offense, good for him. We expect some level of offense and to get it right away is a nice win, it’s nice to have that production. Drives the net on the [Sean] Kuraly goal — something else we’ve talked about, getting inside a little more. Big or small, we need that. Against good teams, you have to be able to do that. All in all, Kuhly, nice night for what he brings and we’re happy to have him back. He’s a nice player for us.”

The Bruins went into this season with Kuhlman earmarked as a top-six winger for David Krejci after he put together three goals and five points in 11 games last season and had a few moments in the playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final as well. It was as much a statement about the Bruins being short on top-six wingers as much as it was about their excitement in Kuhlman’s game. That remains the case with the trade deadline looming next month.  

“It was great to be back, to be honest with you. A lot of adrenaline and my legs were there and my conditioning was there. So, I was happy to be where we were at. I was happy to be back,” said Kuhlman. “It was just getting to the bench and re-focusing on what I can do to help the team win. My game is getting up and down the ice, winning puck battles and getting pucks to the net. Keeping it simple is one of the best things I can do to help this team.”

Some have deduced that Kuhlman (5-11, 185) replacing Ritchie (6-4, 220) means the Bruins have consciously chosen speed and skill over size and strength for the long haul and it remains to be seen if that’s the case. What Kuhlman, 24, did do is again show he's capable of helping the Bruins in short bursts and against smaller, speedier opponents. That in itself is no small feat for a team in search of energy and wins right now.