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Video: Ty Anderson, Scott McLaughlin, Josh Dolan on Bruins’ offensive struggles, Game 4 loss 04.19.17 at 11:55 pm ET
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The Bruins couldn’t do anything offensively Wednesday night and fell into a 3-1 series hole with a 1-0 loss to the Senators. WEEI’s Ty Anderson, Scott McLaughlin and Josh Dolan reacted on Facebook Live after the game. Watch it below.

Tuukka Rask and Craig Anderson reignite goaltending duel in Game 4, but Sens still win 04.19.17 at 10:13 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask and Craig Anderson returned to form in Game 4. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Tuukka Rask and Craig Anderson returned to form in Game 4. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

At one point in the second period of Wednesday’s Game 4 between the Bruins and Senators, a rogue beachball landed on the ice during play. If this were either Game 2 or Game 3, there’s a good chance that the beachball would have gone through one of the goalies in this game.

But not on Wednesday, as Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask and Sens goaltender Craig Anderson both brought their best back to the rink.

Both Rask and Anderson were incredible in the opening game, which ended as a 2-1 final for the Black and Gold, but have since seen their play dip in what was back-to-back seven-goal contests, both of which have been 4-3 overtime finals in favor of the Senators. As a result of those games, Rask came into tonight’s game with nine goals allowed and an .898 save percentage for the series while Anderson had eight goals allowed and an .892 save percentage. Both goalies are much better than that, and they showed that in a 1-0 duel of a Game 4.

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Patrice Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist for 6th straight season 04.19.17 at 7:33 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron is once a Selke Trophy finalist. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

Patrice Bergeron is once again a Selke Trophy finalist. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is once again a finalist for the Selke Trophy, which is given to the top defensive forward in the NHL. The other finalists are Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler and Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu.

It’s the sixth straight year Bergeron has been one of the three finalists, and he’ll be looking for his fourth win. He last won it in 2015 and probably should’ve won last year as well, but voters apparently got bored of giving it to him and went for Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar instead.

Kesler is also a former Selke winner, as he took home the hardware back in 2011 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. Koivu is a first-time finalist, although he did finish tied for fourth in voting back in 2009.

The case for Bergeron is pretty straightforward: He led the NHL in both Corsi-for percentage (61.8 percent) and relative Corsi-for percentage (plus-9.7 percent). He tilted the ice in his team’s favor more than any other player in the NHL and therefore kept the puck out of his own zone better than anyone else.

That should be enough to win it, but if you wanted to make the case for Kesler or Koivu, it would be that they dealt with tougher usage in terms of zone starts and still had a positive impact on their team’s possession numbers.

Whereas Bergeron had an offensive zone start percentage of 54.7 percent, Kesler and Koivu were at 33.4 percent and 36.2 percent, respectively. They had a relative Corsi of plus-2.0 percent and plus-0.8 percent, respectively.

The most notable omissions are probably Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund and Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri, who similarly got tough usage and still managed to swing positive numbers. Backlund clocks in at 36.3 percent offensive zone starts and a very impressive plus-6.2 percent relative Corsi, while Kadri’s at 37.4 percent and plus-1.4 percent.

Personally, I think Backlund had the best case against Bergeron this year. But as it is, Bergeron looks like a pretty easy favorite.

(Courtesy corsica.hockey)

(Courtesy corsica.hockey)

With stars struggling or injured, Bruins need secondary scorers to come through with some production 04.19.17 at 7:33 pm ET
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The Bruins could use some more production from the Spooner line. (Charles Leclaire/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins could use some more production from the Spooner line. (Charles Leclaire/USA Today Sports)

Bruins center David Krejci, who finished the year third among B’s skaters in both goals and points, is not playing at anything close to 100 percent. Top-line winger Brad Marchand, who scored a team-high 39 goals this season and produced above a point-per-game pace for the first time in his career, has been bottled up as much as one can given his skill, with one goal through three games of round one.

And to state the obvious, with those players either frustrated or hobbled, the Bruins need to find production elsewhere.

It’s pretty easy to find those players for the Bruins, too. They’re all on the same line, too; Ryan Spooner has just two helpers through three postseason games (both secondary helpers on the power play), while Frank Vatrano and Drew Stafford enter play with just one goal each.

“Well, secondary scoring — I mean, the first game Frankie got us going, he got us a big goal. Then, [Brad Marchand] got the winner. I think every coach would tell you that’s important. And even getting our backend a little more involved,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said before Wednesday’s Game 4 at TD Garden. “[Dion] Phaneuf got a big goal for them, [Chris] Wideman — so, you need offense from all sources because the other guys are more targeted.”

“In the playoffs it’s huge,” Vatrano said of the team’s secondary scoring. “Obviously they’re going to pay extra attention to our top guys and when they’re taking time, space, and scoring away from them, it’s up to the secondary scorers to get the job done.”

Vatrano did not get the job done on Monday, with just one shot on goal in 18 shifts. Stafford was not much better, with zero shots and a minus-1 rating in 12:15 of time on ice, and Spooner was a non-factor in his seven-plus minutes of five-on-five play.

But they’ll get another chance to step up tonight, with Stafford dropped back to his natural right-side on a line with Spooner and Vatrano, as Cassidy knows it’s a need for the club to make any sort of run deeper into the spring.

“Clearly, your best players need to be your best players,” Cassidy said. But, every year in the playoffs, there’s always those guys that step up. [Tim] Schaller got one, game two, big shorty. So we’ve had some of that and we’ll continue to look for it.”

As expected, Tuukka Rask gets the call in the B’s net. Rask surrendered four goals on 32 shots in a Game 3 overtime loss, and has allowed nine goals on 88 shots this series. And, again, as expected, Ottawa counters with Craig Anderson. The veteran Anderson has had similar struggles in this series despite the series lead for his club, with eight goals on 74 shots against.

Bruins defenseman Colin Miller (lower-body) draws back into action for the first time since Game 1. Tommy Cross, who was on the ice for three of Ottawa’s four goals in his season debut on Monday night, will sit as a healthy scratch in his place.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Tim Schaller – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Frank Vatrano – Ryan Spooner – Drew Stafford

Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari

 

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Joe Morrow – Kevan Miller

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

This is becoming the Erik Karlsson Series, and that’s not good for the Bruins 04.19.17 at 4:42 pm ET
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Erik Karlsson has four assists in three games this series. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Erik Karlsson has four assists in three games this series. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

If there’s a big goal scored by the Senators in this series, there’s a good chance that it’s been created by the wizardry of Erik Karlsson.

Karlsson danced through the attacking zone before he fed Derick Brassard for the game-tying goal in what finished an Ottawa overtime win in Game 2. Karlsson helped the Sens jump out to a lead in the first period of Game 3 when he hit Mike Hoffman with a Hail Mary pass. He danced around three B’s forwards to keep the puck in the attacking zone for the second Sens goal of that game, and helped create the overtime winner when Dominic Moore gave chase to him behind the net and created all the space in the world for Karlsson to operate.

A minute-eater that’s led the Sens in time on ice in both of their wins this series and has four helpers in three games thus far, it’s been just as hard for the Bruins to avoid Karlsson as it’s been to contain him.

“He’s an elite player, he plays half the game, so he’s going to do damage,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Karlsson. “You gotta limit the damage. He’s a dynamic player. Coming from the backend, everything is front of him and he can beat you up ice. So there’s a lot of ways he can beat you and we need to do a better job neutralizing him.”

Neutralizing him would be a start, but as the Bruins can attest, it’s also much easier said than done.

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Bruins defenseman Colin Miller expected to play in Game 4 04.19.17 at 1:07 pm ET
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Colin Miller is expected to play in Game 4. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Colin Miller is expected to play in Game 4. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Down 2-1 in a series for the 31st time in franchise history, the Bruins will hope to find a series-evening boost with the return of one of their injured defensemen for tonight’s Game 4 with the Senators.

In a series that’s become defined by the B’s health woes on the point (the Bruins skated in Game 3 without four of their regular NHL defensemen), it’s expected that Colin Miller will be the one that steps back onto the ice and makes his return to the club’s blue line.

Injured in the second period of Game 1 on a knee-on-knee collision with the Senators’ Mark Borowiecki, Miller has missed both Games 2 and 3, but has found a way to consistently ramp up his on-ice participation over that span. Miller first gave it a go on a Friday practice that ended earlier than expected, and was also a participant in Game 3’s morning skate and pregame warmup before he was ruled out in favor of Tommy Cross.

And after being on the ice for this morning’s optional skate, Miller has declared himself ready to go, and so has his coach.

“That’s the plan — that he’ll go in tonight,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Obviously we’ll make that at gametime, but he looks like he’s ready to go, so he’ll go in with John-Michael Liles, and Tommy [Cross] will come out.”

It’s not the major return — the Bruins are still without Brandon Carlo (upper-body), Torey Krug (lower-body), and Adam McQuaid (upper-body) on their point — that the club was hoping for, especially when it comes to helping the club return to their roots of blocking shots and boxing out bodies in front of Tuukka Rask with strong physical play, but it’s one that will certainly help a Boston defense that’s simply running on empty and running out of options.

 

The 24-year-old Miller had one shot and one hit in just 7:08 back in Game 1, and skated in 61 games for the Black and Gold during the regular season, with six goals and 13 points along with 85 shots on goal.

Of those six goals and 13 points, three goals and five points came in 22 games following the switch from Claude Julien to Cassidy.

Including playoff games, the Bruins are 37-22-3 with Miller in the lineup this year, and 8-11-4 without him in action.

Here’s your daily update on the Bruins’ injury woes 04.18.17 at 3:02 pm ET
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Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid were among three Bruins defensemen that missed Tuesday's practice. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid were among three Bruins defensemen that missed Tuesday’s practice. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins got two of their six injured skaters back in Monday night’s Game 3 against the Senators with the return (and immediate impact) of fourth-liner Noel Acciari and top-six center David Krejci.

Defenseman Colin Miller, who participated in the morning skate and pregame warmup after having missed the second half of Game 1 and all of Game 2 because of a lower-body injury, almost made it three, but was ultimately ruled out in favor of Tommy Cross at puck drop.

But their returns were not enough for the B’s to regain the series lead against the Sens, as they fell by a 4-3 overtime final at TD Garden.

So, with the club in danger of falling behind 3-1 with a loss on Wednesday, how about adding some more healing bodies to the mix? Preferably one of Brandon Carlo (upper-body) and Torey Krug (lower-body), who have yet to play in this series, or Adam McQuaid, who missed Monday’s Game 3 after leaving in the first period of Game 2.

“He’s doing OK, he’s day-to-day, doubtful for tomorrow,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Carlo, who did skate on his own prior to the start of B’s practice. “Colin Miller is better. We’ll have an update in the morning, but he’s ahead of Carlo and Krug for sure.”

With the pairings at practice the same as they were last night — Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy were the top pair, Joe Morrow and Kevan Miller made up the middle pairing, and John-Michael Liles and Cross were the third pairing — Miller skated on a fourth pairing with Matt Grzelcyk, which could stick out as a sign that he is still a little bit away from a return. If Miller does indeed return for tomorrow’s Game 4, however, it’s expected that Cross would take a seat as a healthy scratch after making his season debut last night, with one assist and two blocked shots in 13:08 of ice time.

But the big loss for the Bruins in this series has been Krug.

After a career-high 51 points in 81 games during the regular season, and the quarterback of a Boston power play that simply thrived under Cassidy, Krug’s absence has become glaring by way of the club’s 2-for-10 mark against an Ottawa penalty kill that they just straight-up torched in the regular season, where they went 5-for-8 against Craig Anderson. The moment Krug becomes available is the moment that series could truly shift back towards the Black and Gold’s favor, you’d think.

But it’s one step at a time, and Krug is not there just yet.

“Krug, we’ll list him as day-to-day, but he wasn’t on the ice,” said Cassidy.

The good news, though, is that Krug, who did not travel to Ottawa last week, was seen at TD Garden last night without crutches he reportedly left the arena on when the injury happened two weeks ago, and was once again at Warrior Ice Arena on Tuesday.

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