Following the skate, Coach Julien said Ference did not make the trip to Toronto. He is out day-to-day - and hence, the defenseman stayed back in Boston to recover as his teammates look to close out the series.
"Obviously, didn't make the trip for good reasons," said Julien. "We're heading back home tonight one way or another - he's a day-to-day."
So, who will play in the vet's place?
"That will be a game-time decision."
While the forward group has remained consistent since Game 2 - and according to pregame skate, appears to be remaining the same for Game 6 - the back end will now be determined by game-time decisions.
During their morning go-round, Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid were the pairings inside one blueline, with Aaron Johnson-Johnny Boychuk and Wade Redden-Dougie Hamilton the pairs at the other end, as the forward lines rotated through their rushes.
Bartkowski slotted in for the injured Redden (undisclosed, day-to-day) in Game 5, alongside Adam McQuaid, finishing the game with 6:40 in ice time. Hamilton has suited up in one playoff game, back in Game 2, when Ference was serving a one-game suspension from the league. Johnson is the only blueliner who has yet to see playoff action. He last saw game action on March 30, in Philadelphia.
"That's probably the biggest obstacle, it's been tough for Aaron," said Julien, of his limited game-time. "We would have loved to give him the opportunity to play in Providence, but the CBA doesn't allow it and it's kind of played against him. Right now, he hasn't played in a long time. It's tough for him. As far as Redden's status, a lot of game-time decisions to be made tonight regarding our back end."
It Starts at Puck Drop
Coach Julien is looking for his team to make a statement from the drop of the puck tonight.
"I'd like our team to establish what we plan on doing for 60 minutes," he said, on what he would like to see from his club off the start. "We've been talking about good starts, that's one thing, but it's about sustaining that for 60 minutes. It has to start at the drop of the puck and be consistent throughout the whole game."
"Quick starts, that's one thing; it's about sustaining it for 60 minutes. It has to start at the drop of the puck and be consistent throughout the whole game. There's ebbs and flows. Last game I thought we had a good start until we got that penalty; once they got that power play, it kind of took over that first period. Doesn't take much sometimes, this is a very touchy game and we have to respect that part of it."
Krejci Line Wants to Kick it Up a Notch
David Krejci's line has, by far, been the best for the Bruins offensively this series. The centerman is tied for the NHL lead in playoff scoring with 11 points off five goals and six assists (Evgeni Malkin comes in at a 2-9=11 stat line). Nathan Horton is second on the Bruins behind Krejci with six points (3-3), along with Milan Lucic (0-6) and Zdeno Chara (1-5).
The trio only combined for two shots on net in the Game 5 loss to Toronto, though Krejci did provide the saucer pass that set up Chara for his wrister to pull the Bruins within one in the third, and they did combine for 10 hits.
"They've been a good line for us. Certainly they weren't the same line that they had been for us," said Coach Julien. "They know they can be better and we expect them to be tonight."
Marchand, Seguin Holding Themselves Accountable
The stats are there - Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin have put 37 shots on Leafs netminder James Reimer through the series' five games, but still, neither have found the back of the net.
Sunday morning, following pregame skate, the duo sat side by side in the locker room, answering questions from reporters. Though they would probably rather answer any pending questions out on the ice, with an inspired performance tonight, than sitting on the bench in the Leafs' visiting room, they both spoke about accepting responsibility for not producing and preached bearing down and finding a way to put home chances.
"Being able to stay calm and be confident in those areas," said Seguin, on how to get his pucks past Reimer. "When you have an empty net, being able to make that extra move and make sure the puck goes in. I think it's also not visualizing scoring goals, but being able to stay calm and relax and make sure you get it in."
"I think we've been passionate, we've been working hard. It's just about being a bit smarter, being a bit more confident and calm with the puck, support each other a little bit more all over the ice."
Crashing the Net
No goal in this series has demonstrated "crashing the net" quite like David Krejci's second goal of his hat trick in the 4-3 overtime win at the ACC in Game 4.
It's a simple notion, really, that we've heard often throughout the season - the player who is willing to go to the "dirty," "gritty" areas and drive the net more oft than not gets rewarded with a goal. But it's how to get around the defenders and find those areas that is the challenge.
Outside the series, Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis comes to mind, with his fearless play around the goal mouth. Within Bruins' recent history, Mark Recchi is as relentless as they come.
"That's where the experience came in – he had a way of getting away from those guys, rolls off; you've got to be able to roll off those kind of guys," said Coach Julien. "A guy like Zdeno is so tall and a little guy comes in and he's rolling off and getting himself into position. It's hard for those kinds of guys to defend against it. Most of the time you end up with a penalty because your stick is too high trying to push that guy out. That's what good little players will end up doing."
So, what made Recchi so great at it?
"He was a wrecking ball," Julien quipped.
Following the Game 5 loss, if you moved around the locker room from Bruin to Bruin, you may have heard a similar notion - that the team probably focused too much on how the desperate Leafs would come out at the start, rather than focusing on their own game.
"We said it until we were blue in the face last game," said Chris Kelly. "They're going to come out and be the desperate team. We need to focus on ourselves."
"We're a good hockey team when we're playing well. That's the main focus is not how they're going to come out, it's how we're going to come out."