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Bruised Bruins D: Seidenberg, Redden and Ference out

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The Boston Bruins got out of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs alive, but those seven playoff games took their toll.

They’ll roll into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers on Thursday without defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Wade Redden and Andrew Ference. On the bright side, dinged-up pest Brad Marchand will play as promised.

On the Rangers’ side, the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti points out that John Tortorella is expected to acknowledge the Bruins’ forward depth by splitting up key blueliners Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

The two “Original Six” franchises are set to renew acquaintances at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight on NBC Sports Network.

Carlyle says Leafs should have kept attacking Bruins

Cody Franson
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Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle is shouldering part of the blame for his team’s astonishing third-period collapse versus the Boston Bruins.

Today in Toronto, Carlyle lamented the fact he didn’t direct the Leafs to be more aggressive with the lead in Monday’s Game 7 loss.

“We should have had our players attack,” he said, per James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail.

Toronto led the Bruins, 4-1, almost halfway through the third period, and 4-2 with less than two minutes remaining. But in one of the more remarkable comebacks in playoff history, Milan Lucic scored at 18:38, quickly followed by a Patrice Bergeron tally at 19:09.

Boston went on to win the game, and the series, in overtime.

“Time will heal this, but we can never forget it,” said Carlyle, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “How can you forget it? You can’t.”

Five Q’s: Bruins-Rangers preview

Zdeno Chara
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Can Boston’s defense get healthy?

It’s not clear when injured Bruins defensemen Dennis Seidenberg (lower body), Andrew Ference (foot) and Wade Redden (undisclosed) will be able to play. For Game 1, it appears Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski, and recent AHL call-up Torey Krug will be in the lineup. In a related story, no d-man has been forced to play more minutes in the playoffs than Zdeno Chara (202:19). The Bruins blew a golden opportunity to get some much-needed rest when they couldn’t close out the Leafs in five games. It’s possible that could come back to haunt them.

Can the Bruins find some consistency?

They pushed their luck against Toronto, needing a miraculous comeback in the third period of Game 7, then overtime. Before then, B’s coach Claude Julien had lamented his team’s “Jekyll & Hyde” season. As everyone knows, Boston is tough to beat when it plays physical, in-your-face hockey. However, playing that way isn’t easy — you have to really want to pay the price. Perhaps the Bruins can build on their emotional victory over the Leafs. Maybe they just needed to be reminded how good the payoff felt. But if they don’t compete consistently against the Rangers, they’ll be in trouble.

Can Girardi, McDonagh handle the big B’s?

Chara isn’t the only defenseman who can expect to play big, tough minutes in this series. New York’s Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi will also be out there a lot. If the Bruins do compete like they can, they’ll be pounding the Rangers’ top duo every chance they get. “Boston does provide a different look with, I’ve got to say, four good lines,” Girardi said. “They like to play their fourth line a lot, and that line gets on the forecheck and creates momentum that way. I think all four of their lines are pretty dangerous, so it’s on everybody to make sure we shut it down no matter who we’re out there against, kind of like doing the same job, but on everyone.”

Can the Rangers’ big guns deliver?

Their biggest gun is Rick Nash, who led them in goal-scoring during the regular season, with 21. So far in the playoffs, all he’s managed is two assists. Now, that’s not to say he hasn’t come close. He leads the Rangers with 22 shots in the postseason, and he hit the post in Game 2 against the Capitals. “I think the offense will come,” he told Newsday. “I was getting a few chances [Monday], got a few chances [Sunday]. That’s my main goal, trying to help the team win.” Brad Richards, on the other hand, seems less likely to break out. The 33-year-old center with the big contract was demoted to the fourth line against Washington. He did play well at the end of the regular season though, finishing April with 16 points in 14 games.

Can Derick Brassard keep it up?

The 25-year-old center who was acquired from Columbus at the trade deadline had nine points in the first round. Without Brassard, along with linemate Mats Zuccarello, the Rangers might not be playing anymore. “This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Brassard told NHL.com. “I just feel like I don’t think as much on the ice here, I just play. The way we play the game and the way we manage the puck I think it fits really well with my style. They don’t make me try to play another game. Why I play in the NHL is because I make plays, and now not only is my confidence high, it’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

Playoffs Tonight: Rangers, Bruins kick off their series

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 12: Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers shoots the puck against Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on February 12, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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The last of the Conference Semifinals series starts tonight and then we’ll see if the San Jose Sharks can end the Los Angeles Kings’ perfect record at home in the 2013 playoffs.

Please keep in mind that both games can be watched online in addition to the channels listed below.

Game 1: Boston Bruins host New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins both needed the full seven games to best their first-round foes, but between them, the Rangers have looked like the better team lately.

After falling behind in their series against the Washington Capitals, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist posted back-to-back shutouts in Games 6 and 7 to show why he’s arguably the best goaltender in the league. The question is how much help he’ll get from his teammates.

The Rangers’ offense seemed to wake up in Game 7, with captain Ryan Callahan being one of the four New York players to score his first goal of the 2013 postseason. However, Rick Nash hasn’t scored yet and Brad Richards has just one assist in the playoffs. Richards’ struggles have been especially concerning, given that he’s been bumped down to the fourth line.

For Boston, the big question is their defense. Defensemen Wade Redden, Dennis Seidenberg, and Andrew Ference are all dealing with injuries and it would be a huge blow to Boston’s blueline if they had to enter tonight’s contest without any of those three.

At the same time, some of their younger blueliners like Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton held their own late in the first round, so maybe the Bruins will be able to overcome those injuries.

Game 2: Los Angeles Kings host San Jose Sharks (10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Los Angeles leads series 1-0

So far, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has been just as effective against the San Jose Sharks as he was against the St. Louis Blues in the first round. The Sharks managed to get 35 shots on net in Game 1, but the Kings still won 2-0.

“I spent six days reviewing the St. Louis series, and I heard a lot of the same stuff coming out of their mouths,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area. “We didn’t accomplish enough. There is a team that just played against them for six nights, and said they had a lot of chances and the goaltender made a number of saves. We can’t be that team again.”

Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle added that his team needs to be “a little hungrier and a little dirtier and a little meaner in front of their net.”

We’ll see if they can solve Quick tonight, but before they get that chance, there’s one other matter to be settled. Sharks forward Raffi Torres has been offered an in-person hearing for his hit on Kings forward Jarret Stoll.

Torres and McLellan both argued that his hit was clean, but his shoulder appeared to hit Stoll’s head and Stoll was forced out of the game as a result of the incident. Torres has a lengthy suspension history, including his 25-game (later reduced to 21-game) suspension for a high hit on Chicago’s Marian Hossa in the 2012 playoffs.

Video: PHT Extra — Can battered Bruins get past Rangers?

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 12: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers deflects the puck against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on February 12, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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With all due respect to Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, you won’t find too many people that will argue that the Bruins have the edge in netminding in their second-round series against the New York Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goaltenders in the game and on top of that he’s hot after shutting out the Washington Capitals in Games 6 and 7 of the first round. But how far can he carry the Rangers? For that matter, will the Rangers have to lean heavily on him in this series?

On the Boston Bruins’ side of things, they might play tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) without defensemen Wade Redden, Dennis Seidenberg, and Andrew Ference. That’s a major hole for them to fill to say the least. Are those problems they will be able to overcome?

Check out the video below to see Mike Halford and Jason Brough’s preview of the Rangers-Bruins series:

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Related:

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Nash says ‘offense will come’ as Rangers prep for B’s