BOSTON - Following the returns of Marcus Johansson and John Moore on Wednesday night, the Bruins could have another piece back in the lineup for Game 5. Sean Kuraly skated yet again on Thursday afternoon at Warrior Ice Arena and has been termed a game-time decision for Friday's pivotal tilt with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"He's progressing well," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "Then we'll see if he gets cleared in the morning and off he goes. If he's healthy and cleared, he'll go in."
Kuraly has not played since March 21 in New Jersey when he fractured his right hand after blocking a shot. His speed and energy has been sorely missed, particularly over the first four games of the postseason.
"He just adds a ton of depth," said Brad Marchand. "He's been a huge player for us all year, big physical guy, very fast, good PK guy, left-handed centerman. Adds another player that can play against any line. He's very responsible and he's really finding his confidence in his offensive game, the way he's able to control the puck and skate through the neutral zone with his speed the way he controls it down low. He adds another good element to our group."
Video: Marchand speaks to media at WIA Thursday Morning
Cassidy is hoping that Kuraly's potential return is a boost for the Bruins' fourth line, which has struggled mightily at times so far in the first round. Arguably the NHL's best bottom trio for large stretches of the regular season, the unit - currently comprised of Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari, and Chris Wagner - has not been able to gain much traction against the Maple Leafs, combining for just one point through four games (Nordstrom's empty-netter in Game 4).
"Sean's greatest strength is his ability to transport the puck out of our zone, close first, get out. He's strong, real good skater. So he can get the puck out of our zone," said Cassidy. "That line's done a good job, in terms of structurally being in lanes, blocking shots, willing to battle. But they miss that element, a guy that can get it and go and separate.
"In the offensive zone, he can be a puck possessor and be a one-man cycle, specifically teams that are man-to-man. He will force the other team to defend, hang onto pucks, get it out of our end and possess it in their end. We've said it all along with Sean, we're trying to build his game where from that O-zone puck possession, let's get something from it.
"But it's always been a strength to play against good lines and then force them to take it from you…you ask the skill guys of the world, they're waiting, they're waiting, they've got to work to defend. That takes energy and frustration level. We miss that from Sean."
Video: Cassidy speaks at WIA Thursday Morning
Coming Up Big
Zdeno Chara's third-period blast from the point in Game 4 put the Bruins ahead, 5-2, and proved to be the eventual winner. With the goal, Chara (42 years, 30 days) became the second oldest defenseman in NHL history to score in the postseason (Chris Chelios) and the oldest blue liner to notch a winning goal in the playoffs, according to NHL PR.
Chara also set the tone physically with a heavy hit on Mitch Marner early in the first period, while showing his patented leadership in the third period with a speech to his fellow defensemen during a TV timeout.
"He had a monster game last night. He was a force at both ends," said John Moore. "It started with the first shift, just stepped on and had a huge hit on Marner…and then really throughout the game.
"And on the bench too, he's such a great leader. He's obviously won the Cup, he's been in this situation a lot before. He's very vocal and very well respected in this room."
Tuukka Rask (38 saves) also hit a postseason milestone in Game 4, picking up his 37th career Stanley Cup Playoffs victory to pass Andy Moog for sole possession of second place on the Bruins' all-time list.
Video: BOS@TOR, Gm4: Chara pots slap shot through traffic
Taking It Easy
Cassidy admitted that he wavered on whether or not to give the Bruins a day off on Thursday, but ultimately chose to have the team stay away from the ice. While some players came to the rink for treatments and workouts, most took advantage of a rare postseason off day.
"In playoffs it's a different league than in the regular season, so you need that rest, get those bruises fixed and get ready for the next one. At the same time, it's nice to get a little family time," said David Krejci, whose young daughter, Elina, joined him at the rink on Thursday.
"In playoffs, you play lots of hockey, you're on the road a lot, so it's nice to get a day off and spend some time with the family and do the things you've got to do, clear you head a little bit, and get ready for the next day."
Despite the Bruins coming off an important, series-tying victory in Game 4 on Wednesday, Krejci said that taking that day-by-day approach is crucial in the postseason.
"It was a good win, but we've been there before. We had a good [Game 2] and then the next one we lost," said Krejci. "We've been in this situation before, new day today. Get ready, have a good morning skate tomorrow and another good one tomorrow night."
Video: Krejci speaks to media at WIA Thursday Morning
Moore was back in the lineup for Game 4, suiting up for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on March 25 in Tampa Bay. The blue liner's return was not the smoothest - he was minus-2 in 11:36 of ice time - with Moore mentioning that it was an adjustment to keep up with Toronto's speed after missing so much time.
"It's difficult coming in, especially in the middle of playoffs," said Moore, who played alongside Matt Grzelcyk on Boston's third pairing. "But just tried to keep my game simple and felt good about it."
Video: Moore speaks to media at WIA Thursday Morning