GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers appear to be bracing themselves for what likely will be an even further depleted blue line in a must-win Game 4 against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; CNBC. RDS, TSN).
Defenseman Anton Stralman did not participate in the optional practice Wednesday after sitting out the third period of Game 3 Tuesday. Stralman was crunched into the end boards in the defensive zone by Bruins left wing Milan Lucic with 6:54 to play in the second period. Stralman returned for one shift roughly three minutes later but didn't play again.
The Rangers have been playing without Marc Staal (eye), but he has been skating for the past several days with the scratches. Matt Gilroy and Roman Hamrlik are the other options for coach John Tortorella if Stralman is unable to play in Game 4.
"Losing Stralsy is a big blow to us," Tortorella said. "He puts himself in a situation there where he's playing in an area to try and make a play and gets hurt. And he's done that really through the playoffs here. To a defense that's lacking a little depth right now, it hurts us."
Stralman is playing more than 21 minutes per game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If he can't go in Game 4, Tortorella may have to look for even more minutes from his top defense pair of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. They're each averaging over 25 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs.
"I'm just going to go out there whenever the coach calls my name," McDonagh said. "It doesn't matter the situation. I'm just going to play the best that I can and help the team win one game here."
Michael Del Zotto, who has been Stralman's usual defense partner, played a game-high 24:42 in Game 4. His minutes likely will increase if Stralman can't play.
"Listen, we're 0-3, there's no sense of feeling pressure," Tortorella said. "The players that get to play [Thursday] and play more minutes than maybe they're used to, grab a hold of it and let it happen. If you lose, you're done. That's what I'm hoping for, and I believe we will get it from some of our guys."
Forward Ryane Clowe skated Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in Game 5 against the Washington Capitals. Clowe, whose injury has not been disclosed by the team, did not speak to the media.
Forward Darroll Powe, who has been out since Game 3 against Washington, also skated but did not provide an update on his status.
Forward Chris Kreider did not skate. He was struck in the face by Tyler Seguin's stick blade at the 5:05 mark of the third period Tuesday night. He didn't return to the game, but it's possible that's because Tortorella shortened his bench and opted against playing the fourth-line left wing.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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