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Julien's lineup call will come at game time

by Shawn P. Roarke /
BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien won't reveal much about his plans for Game 5 (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) against Carolina.

With Andrew Ference still missing, he has no choice on defense, but to go with the six defensemen -- Zdeno Chara, Aaron Ward, Dennis Wideman, Mark Stuart, Steve Montador and Shane Hnidy -- that played in Game 4.

But up front, there are decisions to be made, especially after Mark Recchi took part in the morning skate. Recchi had missed Saturday's practice after being "banged up", in Julien's words, in Game 5.

Julien had benched Shawn Thornton in Game 4 to get Byron Bitz into the action. Bitz, a rugged forward with a good deal of offensive upside, responded by playing a very solid game, solid enough to earn some time on Boston's second line.

Does that mean Bitz makes another appearance Sunday night in a do-or-die game at TD Banknorth Garden? He skated in Blake Wheeler's place during the morning skate, but that does not mean it will be that way when the puck drops to start Game 5.

"I've got a decision to make tonight after warm-up," Julien said. "We'll have an extra forward out there. Who that will be, I really can't tell you right now."

Regardless of who plays in what positions, the Bruins know there will be no more hockey tomorrows for them if they don't win Sunday night's Game 5.

"You really have to worry about tonight," Julien said Sunday morning. "This is a game you have to worry about. We always say the big picture is scary; the smaller picture is a lot more realistic. It's about winning this game tonight and creating another one."

The big picture is scary. Of the 236 teams that have taken a 3-1 lead in a best-of-7 series in the NHL, 215 have emerged victorious in the series. That's a cool 91.1 percent.

But as long as the Bruins are allowed to lace on the skates for another game, they have to keep believing. Last season, in the first round, the Bruins fell behind Montreal, 3-1. Yet, the underdog Bruins forced a Game 7 before being destroyed 5-0 by the Canadiens.

"For us, it's about tonight's game," said Patrice Bergeron, the team's checking-line center. "It's all tonight. We want to be practicing tomorrow and that is the approach that we have. You can't think about Gamed 6 before playing Game 5."

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