The Bruins will be down at least one body for a do-or-die Game 5 on Monday night as fourth line winger Chris Wagner has been ruled out with an injury.
Wagner was missing from Sunday’s practice in the Toronto bubble along with winger Nick Ritchie, but the fourth line energy player is the only one that has no chance at playing. Ritchie hasn’t been ruled out after a physically taxing Game 4 and fourth line center Sean Kuraly skated with the team and “is progressing” after missing the last two games with an undisclosed injury.
Wagner was one of Boston’s best players in the round robin while scoring a couple of goals, but he hasn’t been as good vs. the Lightning with zero points and a rough minus-5 rating in four games against Tampa Bay. It remains to be seen whether the Bruins will dip into their reserves for a fourth line player or simply re-insert Anders Bjork back into the lineup, but they will again need to do some forward shuffling with a group that’s been outplayed by the Lightning in their second round series.
“I believe they will put their best foot forward and we’re going to have to. We’re playing against a good hockey club that’s not going to give an inch,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s on us to make sure we execute better with the puck and finish a few more plays. I don’t think it’s been domination, but they’ve made the right plays at the right times in games.”
Clearly, injuries haven’t slowed down the Lightning while they’ve missed key guys Steve Stamkos and Ryan McDonagh for the bulk of this playoff series, so perhaps the Bruins can take their cues when it comes to “next man up” and playing through missing bodies in the lineup.