Officially, there is nothing wrong with Ryan Malone.

The surgically repaired knee? Knee's fine. The muscle pull? Old news. And if a jagged bone was sticking through his skin? Nothing but a flesh wound.

Officially, there is no reason Malone barely has practiced this week. No reason he spent more than an hour in the trainer's room while everyone else was dressing Thursday.

Bumps, bruises and lacerations don't count. Sprains, strains and contusions are occupational hazards.

"That's the price you pay. You wear them with pride," Malone said, grinning, after emerging from the trainer's room with a towel around his waist.

"If you're a hockey player and you don't have stitches in your face or a broken nose or you're not missing some teeth, I don't know about you."

And so today the gauze comes off. The aspirins are swallowed, the stick is held, and the Lightning's biggest forward prepares to take up residence in front of the Boston net.

On a team with some of the NHL's more flashy scorers, Malone is the one-man brute squad: the guy who stands his ground near the crease and waits for pucks and punches.

That he obviously hurt himself in Game 5 of the Pittsburgh series is irrelevant. His number of shifts is up, and he has scored three goals in his past six games.

"I don't know if the guy knows what pain is, to be honest with you," said coach Guy Boucher. "He's very courageous going to the net and blocking shots, being first on the puck and getting hit hard to make the play happen. That's his trademark. That's who he is. And certainly a lot of our players take a lot from that.

"Before the year started, I heard all kinds of things about how this guy is a warrior. And through the big games this year, I saw it. And in the playoffs he's just been incredible."

If possible, even more is now necessary from Malone. The Bruins have size. They have a toughness on defense. They have maybe the hottest goaltender in hockey.