The Boston Bruins beleaguered defense will get back at least one body for Game 4 at TD Garden. Colin Miller will return to the ice after missing Games 2 and 3 with a lower-body injury sustained in a collision in Game 1.
The Boston Bruins’ defense is crippled by an outbreak of injuries to its core, top-six players. It started with Torey Krug going down in Game 81 of the regular season. Then, Brandon Carlo took a hit from Alex Ovechkin that knocked him out of the season finale.
Neither skater is expected to play in Game 4. But Krug is the biggest loss. His ability to carry the puck out of the Bruins zone and jump-start the offense is irreplaceable. And his tape-to-tape outlet passes would help break the trap Ottawa plays. Even the power play (2-for-10) is suffering without Krug directing traffic from the point.
But the news isn’t good on Krug, “Krug, we’ll list him as day-to-day, but he wasn’t on the ice,” interim head coach Bruce Cassidy told weei.com at Tuesday’s practice.
It sounds as if Krug isn’t close to playing, never mind skating.
Carlo, on the other hand, is, “Doing OK,” according to Cassidy. “He’s day-to-day, doubtful for (tonight).”
Carlo is skating, but not practicing, yet, reports weei.com. His return could be imminent which would be a huge boost. Carlo is a rock on defense. And he can soak up the minutes that are piling up on Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, and the cherubic, but mature-beyond-his-years Charlie McAvoy.
Another minutes sponge and steady veteran on the blue line, Adam McQuaid went out with an upper-body issue in Game 2 and hasn’t been seen on the ice since.
Colin Miller, however, appears ready to return for Game 4.
Miller’s skating and puck-carrying are his strengths, though he isn’t in Krug’s class. He can contribute by just getting the puck through the clogged neutral zone and into Ottawa’s end. Once there, Miller can get in over his head and make mistakes, but his young legs and energy will be a welcome addition. And he will help share the minute load.
"“That’s the plan – that he’ll go tonight,” said Cassidy at today’s optional practice. “Obviously we’ll make that at gametime, but he looks like he’s ready to go, so he’ll go in with John-Michael Liles, and Tommy [Cross] will come out.”"
A Defense In Shambles
The simple fact that the Bruins are doing cartwheels over Colin Miller coming back from injury tells you all you need to know about how bad the situation around the Bruins defense is. They lost four of their core players and have had to rely on a super-green rookie, fringe veterans, and sub-NHL players to fill in the gaps on the blue line.
Cassidy has had to be creative with his pairings. But he can’t help it he has to play Chara 30 minutes a game. He would be conceding defeat if he did otherwise. He can’t play Joe Morrow 30 minutes, that would be severe negligence. If he played Liles 30 minutes Ottawa would have already won four games.
The sudden promotion and rapid development of Charlie McAvoy is the only positive to come out of this mess. The kid can play. Now he just needs to start shooting and creating more opportunities for others. The skill is there, he just has to deploy it more. But that will come with time. The return of Colin Miller helps. But it’s not enough if the Bruins hope to go beyond the first round of the playoffs.