BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins’ fourth line may get a much-needed boost Friday night. Forward Sean Kuraly skated on Thursday afternoon and has been deemed a game-time decision for Game 5 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kuraly hasn’t played since fracturing his right hand while blocking a shot back on March 21. But he was on the ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday, and if all goes well Friday morning, head coach Bruce Cassidy will send Kuraly out there for Friday’s pivotal Game 5 against the Leafs.
The Bruins’ fourth line has struggled over the first four games of the series, and could certainly use Kuraly’s speed and energy against Toronto. Boston’s bottom line of Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner have just one point so far this series, an empty-netter by Nordstrom at the end of Game 4, and they haven’t been winning the possession battle against Toronto.
Kuraly should help with all of that, as Cassidy explained Thursday.
“Sean’s greatest strength is his ability to transport the puck out of our zone, close first and get out,” Cassidy said Thursday. “He’s strong, a real good skater, so he can get the puck out of our zone. I think that line has done a good job in terms of structurally being in lanes, blocking shots, and willing to battle. But they miss that element, the guy who can get it and go and separate.
“In the offensive zone, he can be a puck possessor and be a one-man cycle, specifically with teams that are man-to-man. He’ll force the other team to defend and hold on to pucks,” Cassidy continued. “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.”
Given he injured his hand, Kuraly should bring some fresh legs and plenty of speed to Boston’s fourth line, along with his usual tenacity and grit. In his 71 games with the Bruins during the regular season, Kuraly scored eight goals and dished out 13 assists, finishing plus-6 in his time on the ice.
The Bruins and Maple Leafs are currently tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven series, with Game 6 set for Sunday in Toronto.