The Boston Bruins head to Long Island tonight for Game 6 of the second-round East Division Stanley Cup playoff series against the New York Islanders needing a win to send the best-of-seven series back to Boston for a Game 7 Friday night.
If the Bruins are going to win at the Nassau Coliseum, a place where they are a combined 1-5 in the regular season and postseason, they will have to do it minus some key pieces, as well as a No. 1 goalie that is not completely healthy. Sounds like a tall task.
Bruins will be without a forward and two defensemen.
I’m not breaking any news here, but on Tuesday, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy ruled out defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller for Game 6. The duo did not travel with the team Tuesday.
The Bruins felt the loss of both players in Game 5 when their penalty kill struggled giving up three goals in four chances to the Islanders, which turned out to be the difference in a 5-4 New York win. Miller never stepped onto the ice this series as he was injured in Game 4 against the Washington Capitals and has been out since.
Carlo took a hit in Game 3 and has been out since and even if the Bruins are able to win the final two games to meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the semifinals, there a chance he would not even play in that series either. A loss tonight makes that a moot point.
Curtis Lazar will not play tonight’s game either after suffering an injury in Game 5 on a hit from the Islanders’ Adam Pelech. He was second in the playoffs for the Black and Gold in faceoffs win percentage at 54.6-percent (%), right behind Sean Kuraly’s 57.1%.
Cassidy pulled Tuukka Rask in Game 5 after two periods and allowing four goals, but one has to wonder just how healthy the Bruins’ top netminder is. In a Game 6 with your season on the line in what will be a crazy loud environment, do you play Rask, who is clearly not right, or do you throw rookie Jeremy Swayman between the pipes to try and save your season in his first career playoff start?
We will find out those answers soon enough, but one thing is certain, it’s either win or go home for the Bruins tonight on Long Island. The Islanders faced the same situation in their first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins and they won Game 6 at home with a 3-2 lead, 5-3. Boston will be looking to do what the Pens failed to do, force a Game 7. Much easier said than done.