BOSTON – It looks like the Bruins could be getting Riley Nash back for Game 3 at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night as they look to really put a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nash missed the final five games of the regular season and the first two playoff games after catching a Torey Krug shot in the right ear that took 40-plus stitches to attach the ear that was hanging off, and then needed some additional time to calm down concussion-like symptoms that were also part of the injury. Nash has skated over the last handful of days with the Bruins at practice, and it sounds like he could finally be ready to get into his first playoff action centering Danton Heinen and David Backes on the third line.
“Riley Nash is looking good, he’ll be a guy that could go into the lineup tomorrow,” said Bruce Cassidy, speaking to the media on a Sunday off/travel day for the Black and Gold. “I think Riley playing that center ice third spot, if he’s healthy then there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be in there. He’s been pretty much a constant for us all year.”
Nash posted career highs of 15 goals and 41 points along with a plus-16 rating this season while providing the Bruins with a higher offensive ceiling when he’s in the middle, as well as strong down-the-middle face-off and two-way play capabilities. Tommy Wingels skated again at Warrior Ice Arena on Sunday morning and could be healthy enough to be available, but it sounded like Nash rather than Wingels would be the guy definitely returning to the lineup. That would then allow Cassidy to return Noel Acciari to his customary spot on the fourth line, and really help the Bruins strengthen both of their bottom-6 lines.
Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Maple Leafs in Game 2 based on Cassidy’s Sunday comments: