Down two games to one through the first three contests of their first-round head-to-head with the Maple Leafs, the Bruins welcomed two skaters back to action on Tuesday, with forward Marcus Johansson (illness) and defenseman John Moore (upper-body) both starting and finishing practice as full participants for B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy.
“[Johansson] made it through practice, skated a little extra,” Cassidy, whose team has shot just over six percent through three games, offered. “Feeling better, he looks like he has some color again. But again, until he shows up tomorrow healthy he’ll be a game-time decision. But encouraging, at least, that he’s here today working with the group.”
The 28-year-old Johansson’s return to action saw him skate with Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen on Boston’s third line while the rest of their lines remained intact, which made David Backes the odd man out for the group’s 12-forward rotation.
The early projection that will likely see Backes scratched for the second time this series isn’t exactly shocking — Backes finished Game 3 with two hits and five shots on goal in 9:09 of time on ice, and logged just six shifts in all from the second period on — but it does raise an eyebrow or two given how ineffective the fourth line was on Monday night.
On the backend, meanwhile, it appears that Moore may finally be ready for game action for the first time since he was knocked out of commission on a heavy hit from the Lightning’s Adam Erne in a Mar. 25 contest, as he spent the practice skating to the right of Matt Grzelcyk on the Black and Gold’s third pairing.
“Moore went through the whole practice in a normal color jersey,” Cassidy said, referencing the red non-contact jersey Moore’s frequently donned. “Encouraging. Tomorrow, if he has no ill effects, he’ll be a game-time decision as well.”
The Grzelcyk-Moore pairing skated over 160 five-on-five minutes together during the regular season, and though their on-ice results weren’t exactly awe-inspiring (the Bruins were outshot 99-86 and outscored 5-3 with this pairing on the ice), there’s no doubt Moore would serve as an upgrade over Steve Kampfer given the speed of this series to date.
Game 4 is Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena.