BOSTON -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien was right to be pessimistic Thursday morning about having any of his injured defenseman in the lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers (NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"They weren't on the ice this morning. Doesn't look good," Julien said after his team's morning skate at TD Garden.
In place of Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden, the Bruins inserted rookies Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton against the Rangers, and Torey Krug, who is making his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut.
Redden played in Game 6 but sat out Game 7 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an undisclosed injury. Ference (lower body) was scratched from the lineup the morning of Game 7, and Seidenberg sustained a lower-body injury on the first shift of Game 7 and skated once more after that.
For Bartkowski and Krug, a synergetic relationship between Boston and its American Hockey League affiliate in Providence could be the key to limiting the drop-off in performance for the Bruins' back end. Bartkowski already has shown signs of fitting in with his strong play in 24:51 of ice time in Game 7 of the first round.
"It helps everybody because [Providence coach] Bruce Cassidy and his coaching staff seem to see the game the same way we do," Julien said. "There's, I guess, a good connection there in the way we coach our teams, very much the same approach. I know in talking to Bruce, the things we do, he does as well, so it's an easy transition for the players. That's important because, you know, coaches have their own styles. And the one thing you don't want to do is make them change where they're comfortable to force them to do something. Sometimes that happens in the minors. A coach coaches a certain way, in the NHL they coach a different way, so there's a transition there and you have to adapt. But we're fortunate that both Bruce and I seem to have the same approach and same philosophy, so it makes the transition for players easier."
Forward Brad Marchand, who left the morning skate early, is in the lineup.