Bruins consider Game Five options
The Boston Bruins have relied on the depth of talent available to the franchise all season, and that depth could be called upon again ahead of Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Game Four saw the St Louis Blues hit back to level the series at 2-2 with a 4-2 victory at the Enterprise Center, and although the Bruins are the favourites with sports betting companies to win Game Five at the TD Garden on Thursday, they will face a tough test against a St Louis team that has shown remarkable and stubborn resistance throughout their playoff run.
That challenge will be made tougher by the potential absence of Zdeno Chára and Matt Grzelcyk, who have joined Kevan Miller on the injury list. Miller is out for the entire series, and both Chára and Grzelcyk are likely to be missing for Thursday’s game, which means that Boston will have to rethink their approach. One option is to go for an 11-forward, seven-defenseman line-up reinforced by players from their American Hockey League side.
That would not be the ideal scenario for the team, but as coach Bruce Cassidy admitted in his comments to the media on Tuesday, the absence of the team’s main defensive talents meant that he had to weigh up all the alternatives.
“Do we need to dress seven [defensemen] because we've got a little bit of inexperience back there? And how does that affect our forward group if we'd have to take a guy out? So, it's not an easy decision. It's not one I want to make,” he said.
The Bruins arrived in Boston on Tuesday and Chára, who was hit in the face with the puck during Game Four’s loss, was sent for medical attention, though no update on his condition or his availability for Thursday has yet been forthcoming. Grzelcyk has been out since picking up a concussion injury in Game Two of the series, and his availability is also in question.
Boston does have another practice and a morning skate ahead of Game Five that would enable them to try out an alternative line-up, which could also mean one of their forwards being double-shifted. The likeliest candidate for that role appears to be David Pastrňák. Meanwhile, Steven Kampfer could be the first player in line for promotion to the Bruins squad, with Urho Vaakanainen and Jeremy Lauzon other options for Cassidy to consider.
Words: Stijn Janssen