In an energy series, adding more can only help.
Sean Kuraly returned to the lineup on Friday for Game 5, and he can only provide more of a spark. The B’s fourth line has struggled so far, but adding another speedy, smart player who can play with an edge helps get that group back on track.
“I feel good. I feel back to 100 percent and looking forward to get going,” he said. “I just want to keep it simple and not over-complicate things…. Take away time and space and be physical when I can, have a good stick when I can and get up and down the ice as well.”
In the two games in Toronto, the fourth line was outshot 13-5 and struggled to keep the puck in the offensive zone. That group is relied on to keep opposing scoring lines at bay, and being pinned into their own zone doesn’t help that goal.
Kuraly’s strengths are making sure that doesn’t happen.
“Sean holds it for them and allows some separation,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “That’s why they’re good in the D-zone because they play in the O-zone. They’ve done a good job of tilting the ice so we can get our offensive players out there. He’s hard to play against. His last two playoffs have been very good offensively and we’d love that to happen.”
The fourth line struggles have come as a surprise after that group, which has included Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner and, when healthy, Kuraly, has been a surprising turn. But, Joakim Nordstrom has struggled to get going at times, and especially in a series like the one the Bruins are in, Kuraly’s assets fit what they need.
“Legs, fast, probably one of the faster guys on our team, if not the fastest,” said Wagner. “He can separate, especially against a quicker team. That’s key for us.”
If the Bruins can carry the energy for two more wins, they’ll advance to face the Blue Jackets. Their lack of push in Game 1 burnt them, and a Game 3 that saw little execution and intensity only in pockets set them behind before Game 4.
Kuraly could help that energy be more consistent.
“There will definitely be energy,” he said. “That’s what my job is and that’s expected of me, to bring energy, so luckily I’ve got a little bit of that.”
Coyle gets going
While Jake DeBrusk hasn’t done much since his polarizing Game 2 (one assist all series), the third line picked things up in Toronto.
Obviously, they’ll need DeBrusk — now playing with David Pastrnak, which could help — to get going on the scoresheet, but if not, the duo of Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle haven’t been bad.
Especially Coyle, with two goals and an assist, who easily could have more if the puck had bounced his way a couple of more times.
“I was told by reliable sources he was very good in the playoffs for Minnesota,” Cassidy said. “He could be a guy who elevates at this time of year.”