BOSTON (CBS) - The Boston Bruins practiced for one final time on Friday before finally heading off for Pittsburgh, and head coach Claude Julien showed off some new defensive pairings ahead of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Penguins.
While Julien's forward lines remained the same, he broke up the famous -- and feared -- defensive duo of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, instead putting Johnny Boychuk with Chara and rookie Matt Bartkowski with Seidenberg.
Rookie Torey Krug lined up next to Adam McQuaid on Boston's third defensive line, with veteran Wade Redden with Dougie Hamilton and Andrew Ference with Aaron Johnson on the two extra lines.
Julien said Thursday that Ference was not medically cleared to return, so his status for Game 1 is still in doubt.
Whether Friday's defensive pairings take the ice on Saturday when the series finally gets underway is yet to be determined, but with things kicking off on the road (and the Bruins won't have the luxury of the game's final line change) it makes some sense for Boston to break up the "Chardenberg" defensive line. With the two on the ice at separate times, Julien can work matchups against Pittsburgh stars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The Bruins did a good job last series shutting down Rick Nash of the New York Rangers -- who was held to just a goal and an assist over five games -- but Julien knows Pittsburgh's depth and fire/star power is a much different animal.
"The one thing I would say about Pittsburgh is the skill level, it’s so deep. We know that the Rangers didn’t score that easily. We shutdown a few players and it took a lot of their scoring away. With Pittsburgh, you’ve got to shutdown more than a few players – I’m going to say even more than three and four," Julien said on Thursday. "They come in bunches. I think that’s the respect that you have to have for that team, knowing that every time you’re on the ice, don’t think it’s going to be an easy shift."
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The Penguins lead the NHL in scoring this postseason at 4.27 goals per game, more than a goal more than Boston's 3.17 average, which ranks second.
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