TORONTO -- The Bruins will be without another defenseman for Game 6 as Andrew Ference didn’t make the trip with the rest of the team to Toronto. With Ference missing from action because of an undisclosed situation that has him “day-to-day”, the Bruins will have some unenviable choices to make among their defensemen corps. Matt Bartkowski was skating with Adam McQuaid during line rushes this morning, and Aaron Johnson had taken Ference’s place on the left side while paired with Johnny Boychuk among the top six Bruins defensemen.
While Ference made one of the key errors in Boston’s Game 5 loss to the Leafs on Friday night, the Bruins will certainly miss his veteran presence and ability to play a solid two-way brand of hockey at a playoff level for 20 minutes.
Johnson hasn’t played since a rough March 30 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers where he was benched after making a turnover that led to a Flyers goal. It appeared that both Dougie Hamilton and Wade Redden were out of the mix based on the defensemen pairings at morning skate, but Claude Julien indicated that he’s got some decisions to make prior to puck drop on Sunday night.
“It will be a game time decision. Randy [Carlyle] doesn’t give out his lineup, so neither will I. We’re joined at the hip,” Julien said. “As far as Redden’s status, it’s a game-time decision. There are a lot of game time decisions to be made tonight, especially regarding our back end.”
It would be difficult to drop Johnson into the middle of the hotly contested playoff series, but the new CBA didn’t allow the Bruins to designate him for the AHL during the interim.
“That’s the biggest obstaclem" Julien said. "It’s been tough for Aaron. For me it’s about what players are allowed or are not allowed to do. We would have loved to play him a little bit in Providence, but the new CBA doesn’t allow it.
“It’s played against him, so right now we have a player that hasn’t played in a long time.”
Here were the expected line combs and D-pairings based on morning skate: