BOSTON – Five days after leaving Game 2 against the Hurricanes with an upper-body injury following a heavy hit by Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov, Bruins blue liner Hampus Lindholm was back on the ice with his teammates for an optional practice session at Warrior Ice Arena Monday morning as Boston prepared for Tuesday’s crucial Game 5 in Raleigh.
“He’s skating today, I’ll update him from the medical team,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “I won’t rule him out [for Game 5] but I’m not using him at the moment either…I need to hear from the doctors that he’s free…if he’s free he’s in. If not, then we’ll list him as likely for the next game. But the fact that he’s out there skating is always a positive sign.”
Charlie McAvoymeanwhile, remains on COVID-19 protocol and didn’t walk Monday, though Cassidy said Boston’s No. 1 fullback was feeling “better.”
“Same information from me. Doctors will notify me if he’s outside of protocol,” Cassidy said. “I’m not sure how he gets out of the log, I just know they’ll let me know when he’s out. I talked to him [on Sunday], He’s better. So that’s positive. If it’s available, I don’t have an answer today.”
Video: Cassidy speaks to media Monday at WIA
Stick with Swayman
Cassidy said that Jeremy Swayman will receive the call-up for Game 5, marking his third straight start between the whistles for Black & Gold. It’s only the third time this season that Swayman has started three games in a row.
“He’s out there today. It was optional, totally optional. So that’s a good sign that he’s not overly tired,” Cassidy said. “I think an afternoon game helps with recovery. I think he also enjoys working. He knows he can do a little something every day.
“I’m not worried about three games. I’d be more worried if it was seven games in a row or something. There’s a bit of that momentum you carry that gives you some energy at this time of year that you might not have during the January and February times of the year.
“Right now he doesn’t look tired in there. He’s certainly had work to do, but not to the point where it should affect his overall game. Until I get feedback from him, we’ll do that. We’re holding always keep an eye on it… but that’s probably more when the ball gets rolling.”
Video: Russo and Pastrnak talk about the fourth game against CAR
With McAvoy and Lindholm sidelined, the Bruins Defense Corps had to slack off a lot. And Boston’s third pairing of Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton – a duo who are together for most of the year – rose to the challenge.
Forbort led all Bruins in the Ice Age — both overall (23:07) and outnumbered (6:46) — and blocked shots (nine) in Game 3, while Clifton all Boston Blue liners in Game 4 by 20:16 Ice Age passed and hit six.
“Playoff hockey … we played together most of the year,” Clifton said. “We finally have some chemistry. We play well, we play fast, we defend hard and we play hard. Honestly, things went really well for us. We just have to keep going, this energy.
“Together we will all win a few more minutes. No one is going to replace what Charlie brings to the table and the minutes he plays…playing the best game we can as the six D’s that are in it.”
Clifton, in the midst of his fourth postseason at Black & Gold, has now played 40 career playoff games.
“It’s easy to get up for these games,” Clifton said. “Obviously 82 in the regular season, we did our job, we made the playoffs, we caught our opponent — and now it’s time to get in and play as Bruins as we can.”
Cassidy commended the courage both Clifton and Forbort brought to the table in this first-round series against the Hurricanes.
“Cliffy’s physicality was excellent — counter-punches, knocking guys down, bugging guys that way,” Cassidy said. “Forboring on the PK, blocking shots, getting in the way was good. They’re playing to their strengths. Now they feel good about their game and their puck play was good enough to help us go the other way to go .
“They have to keep working on that. But I think that’s what happened to them. I think they’re looking around too – Lindholm isn’t there, McAvoy isn’t there, someone has to stand up, why not me?
Video: Clifton speaks to media Monday at WIA