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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Flyers, Game 4

The Bruins look to put the final nail in the Flyers’ coffin Friday, as they have their sights set on completing a four-game sweep at the Wachovia Center in Philly this evening. The Bruins are 16-0 all-time in series when leading 3-0, having swept 12 of the 16.

But while the Flyers have been losing games on the scoreboard, the Bruins have been losing healthy bodies on their roster. Just minutes into Game 1, the B’s lost their leading goal scorer Marco Sturm, who tore his ACL and MCL and is likely out for 6-8 months. Follow that with Wednesday night’s pair of injuries, one of which is a dislocated wrist to one of the team’s top point producers David Krejci, and the other a lower-body injury to defenseman Adam McQuaid. McQuaid is doubtful for Friday’s Game 4, while Krejci is gone for good, having undergone surgery on Thursday.

All of these bumps and bruises have caused head coach Claude Julien to juggle and rejuggle and rejuggle again, the lineup from game to game. He’ll likely get back defenseman Mark Stuart for Game 4, as he has been medically cleared to return to the lineup for the first time since April 1. He is considered a game-time decision, but look for him to be paired with Andrew Ference on the third defensive pairing Friday in McQuaid’s absence.

On the forward lines, you’ll see either Trent Whitfield or Brad Marchand inserted into the lineup, or actually, possibly both. Winger Shawn Thornton was unexpectedly absent from this morning’s team skate, so his availability for Friday’s game is left in question.

All this being said, the Bruins wouldn’t trade where they’re at right now for anything. Just one win stands between them and their first Eastern Conference finals appearance in 18 seasons.

Here we go with a few more pre-game notes to get you ready for Friday’s potential series clincher…

  • If Mark Stuart cannot make a go of it this evening, one of the three other defensemen on the trip will step into the lineup, with the choices being Jeff Penner, Andy Bodnarchuk, and Andy Wozniewski. GM Peter Chiarelli did say that Stuart is “likely” to make his return though.
  • On the Philly injury front, the Flyers could be welcoming back offensive-minded winger Simon Gagne this evening. Gagne, who broke a toe on his right foot late in the series with New Jersey, has missed all three games in this second round series with Boston. Gagne skated with the team Thursday, but did not appear in the team’s optional skate this morning. He, like Stuart, is considered to be a game-time decision this evening.
  • Philadelphia has led in this series for just one minute and 39 seconds total. They enjoyed a brief 1-0 lead at the beginning of Wednesday’s first period, only to give up the equalizer and the go-ahead goal to Boston by the time the first intermission rolled around.
  • Boston was outshot in Wednesday’s Game 3, which has come to be a rarity these days. The B’s have been outshot by their opponent in just two of their last 24 games.
  • The Flyers will look to become the third team ever to come back from an 0-3 deficit in the NHL playoffs. 160 teams in NHL history have enjoyed 3-0 series leads, and only two, the ’42 Maple Leafs and the ’75 Islanders, were able to beat the odds and win four straight in order to advance.
  • And lastly, we take a quick skate around the league to check in on the other three second round matchups. In the other Eastern Conference semifinal, the Canadiens were able to even their series up with the defending champion Penguins Thursday night, coming back with two third period goals to earn themselves a 3-2 win in Game 4. The series will shift back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 this weekend. Out West, Detroit avoided elimination in grand fashion in Game 4, beating San Jose 7-1 on the heels of four goals from Johan Franzen. Detroit, now down 3-1 in the series, will try to win Game 5 and send the series back to Detroit for Game 6. And lastly, Chicago and Vancouver tangle in Game 4 Friday, with the Blackhawks enjoying a 2-1 series lead.

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