BOSTON -- It appears that the Bruins could be without some key veteran defensemen when they begin their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the New York Rangers on Thursday at TD Garden.
Andrew Ference (lower body) and Wade Redden (lower body) missed the Bruins' epic 5-4 overtime win over the Maple Leafs in Game 7, and Dennis Seidenberg (undisclosed injury) was only able to play 37 seconds.
On Tuesday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated to the media that the Bruins may be without Ference, Seidenberg and Redden and could have a “different look” for Thursday's game. Later in the day, the team recalled defenseman Torey Krug from Providence.
“Maybe we have a different look than we’re used to, as far as puck transporting,” Chiarelli said. “Maybe that’s a good thing, but that’s what we’re going to be. We’re calling up Torey Krug today to come along for the ride, so you may see him at a point. Those three D, if they’re in the lineup, give us a little different complexion back there.”
Chiarelli had no updates on the injured defensemen but he seemed very impressed with the progression that rookies Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton made in the Toronto series. Chiarelli also praised head coach Claude Julien for how he handled Bartkowski, who played 24:51, and Hamilton, who logged 21:08 on ice.
“I don’t have any updates. ‘Seides’ [Seidenberg], as you know, played 37 seconds last night and, obviously, is injured,” Chiarelli said. “He’s been a playoff warrior for us, so if he’s not in we’ll miss him. But I saw two really good performances in those young players, the two rookie players; that’s another testament to coaching, that they were able to integrate these two guys amongst the five D core, in ‘Bart’ [Bartkowski] and Dougie [Hamilton].”
But while Bartkowski, Hamilton and possibly Krug can bring some offense and more puck-moving skills to the Bruins' blue line, the veteran presence of Redden, Seidenberg and Ference will be sorely missed, as will the physicality that Ference and Seidenberg bring. Seidenberg has repeatedly upped the intensity in his game come playoff time and become one of the premiere shutdown defensemen in the league at this time of year. Ference, who has missed three games in the playoffs now, also becomes more physical in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Redden has proven to be a calming influence on the younger rearguards like Hamilton and Bartkowski. But now the young core of this Bruins defense will need to step up. Captain Zdeno Chara can be counted on to eat minutes and will surely step up as he did in Game 7, but these youngsters are about to be baptized by fire against a very physical Rangers forward group.
“They play like us, these guys,” Chiarelli said of the Rangers. “Maybe a little different now that they don’t have [Marian] Gaborik. They might be a little bit deeper, but not as dynamic. They play a heavy game like us.”