Redden's absence felt in Game 5

Redden's absence felt in Game 5
May 10, 2013, 11:45 pm
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Wade Redden's absence was felt on a number of key plays in the Bruins' Game 5 loss.

(Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

BOSTON -- When the Bruins acquired Wade Redden at the trade deadline for a conditional seventh-round pick, the idea of his "on-ice" presence being missed in a potential series-clinching playoff game might have been somewhat far-fetched, at the time

But as Redden was scratched for Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, it certainly didn't help the Bruins seal the deal on their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Not only did Matt Bartkowski's 6:40 of playing time show that Redden was missed on the blue line, but also, defenseman Andrew Ference's mishap on a second-period power play came in a spot that probably would have been Redden's.

With 8:33 left in the second period, and 36 seconds left on a Bruins 5-on-4 power play, Ference made the right decision to creep down the right half-wall, giving extra support with the man-advantage, as Patrice Bergeron was battling for a loose puck at the half-wall. But as Bergeron won that battle and fed it back to the point, Ference couldn't control the bouncing puck, and as he made the attempt to send it across to Brad Marchand at the blue line, Ference -- a left-handed shot -- tried to backhand it to his forehand, where he whiffed on his own stick-handling and sent the puck all the way down into the Bruins' zone.

Tyler Bozak beat Ference to the puck-race, and he stepped in all alone with speed and slid it past Tuukka Rask to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead.

"It was just a tough mishandle of the puck," said Ference after the Bruins' 2-1 loss on Friday night. "A tough puck. I was trying to kind of corral it on the PP. So, it happens.

"I was just trying to, first, settle it down, and then make a play after that. But, I never got the settle down part."

The result was a shorthanded goal for Toronto, in a spot where Ference had rarely found himself in through the first four games of this series.

Entering Game 5, Ference averaged just 13 seconds per game on the power play. He saw two seconds of power-play time in Game 1, zero seconds in Game 2, 34 seconds in Game 3, and 16 seconds in Game 4.

When Redden was healthy through the first four games of the series, he saw an average of 2:35 per game on the power play. He saw 4:41 in Game 1, all nine seconds of the team's power-play time in Game 2, 2:21 in Game 3, and 2:30 in Game 4.

Still, the Bruins don't want to make injury excuses, as the Maple Leafs have now forced a Game 6.

"Well, I mean, it's tough to miss anybody," said Ference after the Game 5 loss. "But there's always people to come in and play well and fill a role that they need to fill. So, every team has to deal with that. There's guys that go down for every single team. So, there's no feeling sorry for yourself or wishing you had a guy. You just deal with it."

In Redden's absence, Ference didn't deal with his 1:41 on the power play too well.

"It sucks, I mean, it sucks to mishandle a puck, but it's not a bad decision or anything like that," said Ference, when asked if he's already put his mishap on the first goal behind him. "It just happens. So, it's fine. It's happened to all of us. And you deal with it."

Would it have happened to any of the other Bruins' defensemen, if they were on the blue line at that time? There's no way to find out.

But there aren't many who thought -- at the time he was acquired -- that Redden's absence would be creating this type of conversation in the playoffs.