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Recchi ready to play in Game 5 for Bruins

05.10.09 at 12:26 pm ET

Bruins winger Mark Recchi, who missed Saturday practice after getting “banged up” against Carolina in Game 4, skated in Sunday morning pregame skate at the TD Banknorth Garden and is expected to play. Andrew Ference didn’t participate in the morning skate and is out for a pivotal, do-or-die Game 5 showdown with the Hurricanes.

Perhaps this is the game that B’s bench boss Claude Julien opts to scratch Blake Wheeler — a virtual non-entity for the series against the Hurricanes aside from his PK responsibilities — and put both Shawn Thornton and Byron Bitz in the group of 12 active forwards.

“I’ve got a decision to make tonight after warmups,” said B’s coach Claude Julien. “We’re going to have an extra forward. Who that will be? I really can’t tell you right now.”

–Interesting that Claude Julien is all of a sudden getting very vocal about a Carolina “trap” that they’re throwing at the Bruins to stifle their offensive surge — when it actually seemed like an aggressive forecheck combined with poor dump-ins have been more of Boston’s problem through the first four games of the series. Combine that with a pop-gun power play that’s been more bust than boom, and you have all of the ingredients for an offensive slowdown.

Quick decision-making and crisp passes out of the defensive breakouts appear to be the issue more than anything else, but Julien went in a different direction with the question. Perhaps it’s an attempt to protect a D-Man corps that hasn’t been very good in the best-of-seven series and exposed as something of a liability under heavy, constant pressure.

Julien is crediting Carolina coach Paul Maurice with throwing something at the B’s players that they weren’t necessarily expecting: a stifling four man trap from the red line in.

“(Spending time) in their end has been a big challenge for us,” said Julien. “They play four guys back. They just wait for us in the neutral zone, and it’s something a little surprising coming from (Paul Maurice) because I know he used to complain about that last year when he was in Toronto. About us killing with the trap.

“But that’s what they’ve done, and they’ve created a pretty tough situation for us as far as getting in (Carolina’s zone). We’ve got to find ways to get pucks in and play more in their end. They’ve got three guys waiting for us between the ride and blue line, and they’ve got a D back in deep that just retrieves the puck whenever we chip it in. Somehow we’ve got to manage to get pucks behind and also put them in areas where we can retrieve them.” 

–There was a tacit understanding among the players that a Game 5 win in Boston would not only rekindle Boston’s confidence, but it could put a good deal of pressure on the Hurricanes in a Game 6 scenario at the RBC Center. The Canes players will, no doubt, want to avoid a Game 7 in Boston at all costs, but all Bruins players had 100 percent focus on the task at hand Sunday night.

“For us it’s really about tonight’s game and then don’t look at anything else. It’s tonight,” said B’s center Patrice Bergeron. “We want to be practicing tomorrow, you know? That’s the approach we have. We can’t think about Game 6 before we think about Game 5. We’ve got to think about tonight’s game, and we’re going to be ready for that.

“We’re happy with the chance to have (home ice advantage) and play in front of our fans.

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