Game 2 victory was painful for the Bruins
The Bruins may be missing two defensemen in Toronto on Monday, if not a key forward.
In Boston’s 4-1 win over Toronto Saturday night in Game 2 at TD Garden, defensemen Torey Krug and Connor Clifton left with injuries, and forward Jake DeBrusk was in rough shape when he met with reporters afterward.
Krug’s injury appeared the worst of the three. Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin knocked off his helmet with a high hit midway through the second period. Krug went into the boards and hit the back of his head, neck, and shoulders. He tried to regain his footing, but remained crawling on his knees. He eventually made his way to the dressing room and did not return.
“I don’t think you should assume he is concussed,” coach Bruce Cassidy said afterward. “We don’t know that yet.”
Krug, who missed two weeks in March with a concussion, did not meet with reporters afterward. Same goes for Clifton, who left in the third after taking a hit from Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri.
The Bruins, already missing defensemen Kevan Miller and John Moore, have Steven Kampfer (healthy scratch) waiting in the wings. They may have to dip into AHL Providence reserves for Monday. Both Jeremy Lauzon (upper-body) and Urho Vaakanainen (illness) have missed time of late. Another option could be Jakub Zboril.
DeBrusk, who appeared dazed when he met with reporters, took a retaliatory cross-check to the side of the head from Kadri in the third period.
“Did a series of tests,” he said. “Just hoping they come back negative.”
He said he didn’t know where the stick caught him.
“It’s all kind of a blur, to be honest,” he said. “From what I remember, it was high. I felt it in my face.”
DeBrusk, who crashed hard into the boards Thursday and was also dropped behind the net by Kadri with a questionable hit, landed four shots on net and delivered four hits in 13:53 of ice time in Saturday’s 4-1 victory that tied the series, 1-1.
The Bruins haven’t gone down 0-2 in a series since 2011, when they fought back from two such deficits: in the first round against Montreal, and the Stanley Cup Final against Vancouver.
Marcus Johansson, who was blasted by Moore in the first period Thursday, was scratched for Game 2. The Bruins said Johansson was ill.
Johansson’s absence put David Backes in the lineup, after the first healthy scratch of his playoff career. He skated on the third line with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle, assisting on Coyle’s opening goal, putting three shots on net, and dishing out seven hits in 12:12 of ice time.
After the morning skate, Cassidy didn’t mention any issue with Johansson, but noted a few players (DeBrusk among them) were ailing. Backes, he said, would play regardless.
“We need a little more leadership, a little more intensity in our lineup,” Cassidy said. “He obviously brings that. We’ll see where it goes.
More is needed
At even strength Thursday, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak went 0-0—0. They controlled 58.62 percent of the shot attempts (per Natural Stat Trick), but everything else was fairly even (7-6 edge in scoring attempts, outshot 8-7, outscored 1-0).
“We know how we’re supposed to play,” Marchand said. “We deviated from that a little bit. But we had that opportunity to look at it, and try to be better in those areas. Hopefully we are [Saturday night].”
In Game 2, Pastrnak assisted on Marchand’s even-strength goal and Marchand got a helper on Bergeron’s power-play goal that sealed the victory.
Hits keep coming
Thursday’s biggest bump came from 5-foot-10-inch, 182-pound Trevor Moore, who dropped Zdeno Chara (6-9, 250) with a battering-ram check to his midsection. Chara went flying into the boards, hitting his shoulder, back, and side. Moore nearly fell but kept his balance.
“It lights a little bit of a fire in you,” Brandon Carlo said of Moore’s hit. “You don’t want to see guys like that running around, especially with a guy who’s been in the league 22 years. If he’s going to do that, I think there should definitely be some pushback . . . Hopefully we’ll see that tonight.”
Chara was none-the-worse for wear, with two shots on goal, two hits, and two blocked shots while finishing second among Bruins Saturday with 22:43 time on ice.
Ideally, the Bruins would have Sean Kuraly, whose size (6-2, 210) and speed combo factored in all three goals in a Boston win in Toronto in January. He’s been out since March 22 after blocking a shot with his hand.
The Bruins, foraging for an effective fourth line, badly miss him.
Chris Wagner missed several games down the stretch with a lower-body injury and wasn’t his usual wrecking-ball self in Game 1 (one hit). He had four hits — and three shots — in Game 2. Noel Acciari hits like a linebacker, but skating isn’t his strength. Another fourth-line option, Backes, doesn’t bring much in the pace department. The retooled fourth line, with Joakim Nordstrom in Kuraly’s place on the left, has to rediscover its game.
“You’ve got to win your races . . . then you’ve got to win your pucks,” Cassidy said. “Physicality, smarts, good sticks, legs — they were better than us at that. We weren’t prepared to win those pucks. We have to correct that, quickly.”
The Bruins called up Paul Carey, a left wing, in case DeBrusk couldn’t go. Carey was on the ice for the morning skate . . . Defenseman John Moore participated in the morning skate, wearing a red (noncontact) jersey. Moore has not played since Tampa Bay’s Adam Erne hit him from behind on March 25 . . . Rookie winger Karson Kuhlman, who made his playoff debut Thursday, said a hit from Kadri halfway through his first shift helped him settle into the game. “That throws you into it,” Kuhlman said. “It was a good thing, for sure.” Cassidy said Kuhlman had “good energy” and “didn’t hurt us. He was fine.”