Lineup choices await Bruins' Claude Julien

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Over to you, Claude Julien.

After New York Rangers coach John Tortorella made some bold lineup changes and his club avoided a sweep at the hands of Julien’s Boston Bruins, it is now going to be interesting to see what adjustments Julien can or will make for Game 5 Saturday afternoon (5:30 p.m.) at TD Garden.

Not that the Bruins should be shifting into panic mode.

Despite suffering a Game 4 loss, the Bruins remain 3-1 up in this Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Some spotty goaltending by Bruins ’keeper Tuukka Rask – his pratfall that opened the door for the Rangers’ comeback will live on forever on blooper reels – and some soft defensive play by the blue line duo of Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton could be viewed as one-off performances.

There was also a third-period Bruins penalty for too many men on the ice that opened the door for the Rangers to tie the game with their first power-play goal of the series.

Not to take anything away from the Rangers, but many of the Bruins’ problems in Game 4 were self-inflicted.

“I didn’t think we were good. We were OK,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “In the playoffs, ‘OK’ is not enough to win you some hockey games. A lot of our play was just OK, so we need to be good. That’s what we’re aiming for (Saturday).”

Chara wasn’t attentive and had his pocket picked behind the Bruins net by Derek Stepan for the equalizing goal and Hamilton made a soft play on the winner by New York’s Chris Kreider seven minutes into overtime Thursday night.

Hamilton’s play in overtime was indicative of the rookie’s increasing difficulty in dealing with the elevated pace and intensity of the playoffs and, judging by the numbers, the decreasing confidence the coaching staff has in the 19-year-old, at least defensively (he’s got three assists in the series).

Hey, he is 19.

He had Kreider going to the net in the middle of the ice, but failed to get body position or tie up Kreider’s stick and the Rangers forward managed to tip in a nice feed from Rick Nash for the winner.

Hamilton has seen his minutes decline in each game this series from a high of 20:45 in Game 1 to 14:23 in Game 4. After a plus-2 performance in Game 1, Hamilton is minus-2 in the last three games. He has been on the ice for five of the nine goals the Rangers have scored.

Give the kid credit, though, he took responsibility for his play.

“That last play is bugging me. It’s one I feel I have to have,” said Hamilton. “I feel like I kind of let the team down … if I get rid of the stick, the puck goes in the corner. That’s it. That’s the play. I’m pretty upset.”

It will be interesting to see if Bruins veteran defenceman Dennis Seidenberg will be ready to return from a lower body injury Saturday. He has been looking better in practice the last couple of days.

“I felt comfortable out there today,” said Seidenberg, who said he still needed to consult with the team’s medical staff before playing.

Defenceman Wade Redden is also closer to a return, though the play of rookies Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski has been very solid in the absence of Seidenberg, Redden and Andrew Ference.

Seidenberg’s return – likely at Hamilton’s expense – would help alleviate some of the workload off Chara, who has topped 30 minutes twice in the series (in the two overtime games, including a high of 38:02 in Game 1) and hasn’t played less than 26:11 in a game (Game 3). At the very least, Seidenberg’s return would make the minutes Chara is playing slightly less demanding, one would think.

Really, the Bruins’ issues going into Game 5 aren’t more than taking care of some details, though it will be interesting to see how Rask responds.

As much as the Bruins hate hearing it, he was the goaltender of record when the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of 2010.

After losing Game 4 Thursday night, Rask is 2-8 in games where Bruins opponents have faced elimination.