RALEIGH, NC – Any hope that the Boston Bruins had about getting one of their top two defensemen back for Game 5 was dashed after Tuesday’s morning skate at PNC Arena.
Both Charlie McAvoy (COVID Protocol) and Hampus Lindholm (upper body injury) remained back in Boston and will be out for Game 5, though there is hope that Lindholm could return for Thursday’s Game 6 at TD Garden after he resumed practicing with the team this week. McAvoy missed Sunday’s Game 4 win after entering the NHL’s COVID Protocol over the weekend and will likely be out a minimum of five days while waiting for a pair of negative test results.
Lindholm will miss his third game on Tuesday night after getting trucked by Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov in a Game 2 loss in Carolina when he was nailed behind the Boston net as he attempted to wheel the puck out of the zone.
Hampus Lindholm needs help getting off the ice after this hit from Andrei Svechnikov. pic.twitter.com/kiHjVBTym6
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 5, 2022
Instead, the Boston Bruins will once have both Mike Reilly and Josh Brown in the lineup and will feature a top pairing of Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo. Amazingly, Connor Clifton led the blue line group in ice time in the Game 4 win with 20:16 and played a strong all-around game for a Bruins team looking for more of that in Game 5.
“Cliffy is always a guy that responds in the playoffs. He’s a guy that we used quite a bit in our run [to the Stanley Cup Final] in 2019. He plays bigger than his size, he plays with physicality and he’s good with the counter-hits and finishing checks when he needs to,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “For him it’s always about managing his puck play. When he gets out there, he’s full tilt so he needs to balance that aggression and intensity, and that joy. He plays the game with a smile on his face.
“For him it’s always been a challenge to stay in the lineup and be consistent, but I think in the playoffs maybe he’s done a better job with that than during the regular season.”
Other than the defensemen remaining out of the lineup, everything will be status quo for Tuesday night’s Game 5 including the Perfection Line sticking together after they exploded offensively against the Hurricanes during the two games in Boston.
“We’re down to the best two-out-of-three, so we’ll do whatever we think is right in-game to get back on track,” said Cassidy. “That was the reason for switching back [to the Perfection Line] late in the second period of Game 2. I just felt we needed some offensive momentum and those two guys [Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak] could benefit from seeing each other a little bit, and they have.
“A lot is made up of the matchup and they will control that for the most part. We scored a couple of goals on faceoffs [in Boston] and sometimes an icing can take you out of your matchup too. At the end of the day those guys have played against all the best in the National Hockey League year to year, so it’s a challenge for them, but they’ve also been through these [playoff series].”
In other words, the Perfection Line’s assignment is to go out and do some damage against a Jordan Staal line tasked with trying to stop them.
Here’s the projected Boston Bruins lineup vs. the Hurricanes for Game 5 with Jeremy Swayman getting his third straight start for the Black and Gold: