For the Boston Bruins, Monday night’s Game 5 could be the end of the line. After winning Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning eight days ago, the Bruins have dropped each of the last three games and now face elimination. It is the first time during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs that the Bruins have their backs against the wall.
Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm on NBCSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
CORE FIVE MUST BE BETTER
If the Boston Bruins are going to live to fight another day, they’ll need their best players to be their best players. Someone needs to step up in Game 5, and head coach Bruce Cassidy believes it will be the core group that has led this team for a decade.
“I think our core will,” Cassidy said Sunday. “They have to. Your best players need to be your best players. I think what I was getting at the other day was they’re going to have some nights where they need the secondary group to push up. Every team, if you’re going to advance in the playoffs, needs that.”
The secondary group for the Boston Bruins hasn’t had that breakthrough moment in this series. The secondary group for Tampa Bay? They seem to be making an impact on each game.
“You’re seeing it with Tampa,” Cassidy continued. “Their third line had a game – listen, the games start running together. Coleman had a couple goals and I thought that really helped their cause. Obviously Kucherov and Point are doing their thing and Vasilevskiy. At the end of the day, you need contributors. And then you need team defense and that’s where we’ve been off a little bit.
“So tomorrow, yes, you need your core guys. I believe they’ll lead us. But defense needs to be good. Especially against this club. We need to help Jaro (Halak) out with the quality of shots we’re giving him.”
“ONE GAME AT A TIME” FOR BRUINS
Hockey is a game that is painfully filled with cliches. A cliche might just be the best approach for the Boston Bruins on Monday night, however.
“Can give you a bunch of cliches, but it truly is one game at a time here,” Torey Krug said Sunday. “We’re just focusing on [Game 5], and trying not to let things spiral out of control within a hockey game is a big part of it. We’re just working on our game and focusing on ourselves. We’ve just got to bring it next game.
“We haven’t played up to our level. We have to get there fast or else it’s gonna end before we want it to.”
Cassidy, meanwhile, doesn’t doubt that his group will ‘bring it’ in Game 5.
“I believe they’ll put their best foot forward and we’re going to have to,” Cassidy said. “We’re playing against a good hockey club that doesn’t give an inch. It’s on us to make sure we execute better with the puck, finish a few more plays, and obviously defend a little better.”
WAGNER OUT FOR GAME 5
If the Boston Bruins do in fact keep their season alive on Monday night, they’ll have to do so without a key depth piece. Winger Chris Wagner missed Sunday’s practice, and has been ruled out for Game 5. Wagner was injured on Saturday in Game 4 during the second period. He did not return to the game, leaving the Bruins with eleven forwards.
Nick Ritchie also was absent on Sunday, but his status remains in the air for Game 5. Ritchie was assessed a five minute penalty in Game 4 for his late hit on Tampa Bay’s Yanni Gourde. He also fought Barclay Goodrow in the loss.
“We’ll see how Ritchie is tomorrow,” Cassidy said on Sunday. Ritchie will not face any supplemental discipline for his hit. The NHL did review it, and decided no suspension or fine was necessary.
The Ritchie hit on Yanni Gourde Saturday was reviewed by @NHLPlayerSafety but no suspension. Hit was timed at less than .6 seconds from time puck was released, and they’ve never given discipline for hit less than .6, very rarely for late hit w/ no head contact. Penalty warranted
— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) August 30, 2020
Sean Kuraly returned to the ice Sunday, but is still ‘day-to-day’. His status for Game 5 remains in question.
BOSTON BRUINS LINES
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie – Charlie Coyle – Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom – Par Lindholm – Anders Bjork
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton
Boston Bruins lines are subject to change, and are largely based off of Game 4. Halak is the expected starter, while Kuraly is officially questionable after missing Games 3 and 4. Bjork is expected to draw in for Wagner, but that will not be confirmed until later on Monday. Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic are also options to draw into the lineup.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LINES
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman
Patrick Maroon – Cedric Paquette
Victor Hedman – Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev – Kevin Shattenkirk
Braydon Coburn – Zach Bogosian
Tampa Bay Lightning lines are subject to change. Lines are based off of Game 4. The Lightning, without Ryan McDonagh, are expected to once again run eleven forwards and seven defensemen. Schenn has dressed as the seventh defenseman in each of the last two games. Vasilevskiy is expected to start once again.