BOSTON – It remains to be seen how things will sort out on Boston’s back end tonight in Game 3 against Ottawa, to the point where Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy cracked that ”it’s like a puzzle he’s piecing together” along the blue line.
Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo are definitely out for Wednesday night after not taking part in morning skate at TD Garden. Colin Miller is a game-time decision and it looks like he’ll miss his second straight game after a knee-on-knee hit from Ottawa D-man Mark Borowiecki in Game 1.
To that end, the Bruins have called up Tommy Cross and Matt Grzelcyk as reinforcements from Providence, and the 27-year-old Cross participated in line rushes with John-Michael Liles on the heels of the best AHL season of his five-year pro career.
Cross may make sense given that the Bruins are down a couple of big, physical bodies willing to block shots in McQuaid and Carlo, and as a defensive stay-at-home type that could lighten 40-year-old Zdeno Chara’s load just a little coming off 30 plus minutes of ice time in Game 2.
“You know what you’re getting with Tommy. He’s a hard-nosed guy. He moves the puck and he’s had career numbers down in Providence this season. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of games we’ve seen guys go in recently that have done well. He’s in game mode, not NHL but the American Hockey League,” said Cassidy of Cross, who finished with 12 goals and 35 points in 74 AHL games this season. “If he’s called upon, we expect him [to do the job]. He’s a good pro. He’s been the captain down there [in Providence], and he’ll give us everything he’s got.
“Whether that helps us win or not is to be determined if he goes in there, but I’m not concerned about Tommy’s game in terms of being nervous or anything like that. You just don’t know how his game will translate having not played up here all year.”
Cross has three games of NHL experience logged in the middle of last season, but needless to say it would be a whole new deal for him if he were to be in Boston’s lineup for his first Stanley Cup playoff game on Wednesday night.
“The familiarity helps knowing the guys, the area and the building, but the [Stanley Cup] playoffs is a different game,” said the career AHL D-man aside from three games in Boston last season. “You’ve got to be ready. I’ve played playoff hockey in the American League, but not in the National League obviously. It ramps up a level and I think that suits my game well. It’s just competing hard and playing simple.”
The Bruins will need both of those things in large supply if Cross, John-Michael Liles, Joe Morrow and Charlie McAvoy could all be in the Game 3 lineup after playing little, if any, role in the NHL for most of this season.