Chris Wagner

Bruins' Matt Grzelcyk in no-contact sweater, not looking promising for Game 7

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Bruins' Matt Grzelcyk in no-contact sweater, not looking promising for Game 7

BOSTON – It looks like Matt Grzelcyk is going to run out of time when it comes to returning to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Bruins puck-moving D-man was on the ice at TD Garden for Tuesday’s off-day practice, but he was once again wearing a no-contact jersey as he has for most of the last couple of weeks aside from the morning of Game 5. Grzelcyk has been out since early in the B's Game 2 loss to the Blues when he was boarded from behind by Blues fourth liner Oskar Sundqvist, and appeared to have something of a setback when he was trying to rush into possibly returning in Game 5. 

Bruce Cassidy also mentioned that he would be reluctant to change up his defense pairings anyway, given how well the B’s moved the puck during the Game 6 win in St. Louis on Sunday night.

“[Grzelcyk] has missed some games now, don't want to mess with the back end,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Obviously up front, [Karson] Kuhlman did a good job, so he'll probably stay in. I don't have any injury reports on any of the other forwards. That's good news. Something could happen obviously.”

It looks like a longshot that Grzelcyk will play in Game 7 on Wednesday night, and perhaps Chris Wagner would have a better chance of playing based on him wearing a regular practice jersey at the Tuesday practice session.

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings based for Game 7 based on Tuesday’s practice with the lineup expected to look the same as Sunday night:

 

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman

Johansson-Coyle-Heinen

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Acciari

 

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Moore-Clifton


Rask

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Matt Grzelcyk "not cleared to play", Chris Wagner a possibility if a Game 7 happens

Matt Grzelcyk "not cleared to play", Chris Wagner a possibility if a Game 7 happens

ST LOUIS – It remains to be seen if the Bruins will get more healthy reinforcements back for Sunday night’s Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues, but both Matt Grzelcyk (concussion) and Chris Wagner (right arm) were on the ice practicing with the rest of the Black and Gold at the Enterprise Center on Saturday afternoon. Grzelcyk was skating with the no-contact jersey on Saturday and still hasn’t been cleared to play ahead of Sunday’s do-or-die tilt, and Bruce Cassidy termed Wagner “doubtful” for the potentially penultimate game of the series.

It sounds like the hard-hitting Wagner might be a possibility, however, if the Bruins manage to push it to a Game 7 on Thursday night back in Boston.

“He hasn’t been medically cleared, so he’s still in a red [jersey],” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk, while clearly not ruling him out from potentially being cleared to play in Game 6. “For tomorrow [Wagner] is doubtful. I’ll put it there. I guess we could wake up in the morning and they could tell me he’s got a chance [to play in Game 6]. But I don’t have that information. So I doubt he’d play. Game 7 could be  a possibility with the three extra days [to heal].”

Wagner, of course, has been out since blocking a Justin Faulk shot with his right arm in the waning moments of Game 3 in the Eastern Conference Final, and the initial expectation for the fourth liner was that he would be out for the duration of the postseason.

Grzelcyk skated without a no-contact jersey on Thursday night ahead of Game 5 at TD Garden, so one does wonder if the Bruins puck-moving D-man experienced some kind of setback over the days leading up to Sunday night’s do-or-die showdown. Either way, the Bruins miss his skating speed and his efficiency moving the puck against a heavy, aggressive St. Louis fore-check, and they could certainly use a hard-hitting player like Wagner in the lineup against the rough-around-the-edges Blues as well.

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings vs. the Blues for Game 6 based on Saturday’s off-day practice at the Enterprise Center:

LINE COMBOS

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak
DeBrusk-Krejci-Backes
Johansson-Coyle-Heinen
Nordstrom-Kuraly-Acciari

D-PAIRINGS

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Moore-Clifton

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Chris Wagner has no second thoughts about blocking shot that likely ended his playoff

Chris Wagner has no second thoughts about blocking shot that likely ended his playoff

BOSTON – There isn’t much of a chance you’re going to see Chris Wagner play in any Stanley Cup Final games after injuring his right arm blocking a shot in the Eastern Conference final against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Wagner was flown back to Boston after absorbing a Justin Faulk blast in his right arm during the third period of Game 3 and hasn’t been seen on the ice since, as Noel Acciari has jumped into his spot on the fourth line.

It’s simply tough luck for the Walpole, Mass., native that he’s missing out on a chance to play in the Cup Final for his hometown Bruins after a solid first season in Boston. But he doesn't sound the least bit regretful about getting injured by playing the right way and sacrificing his body to ensure a postseason victory.

"It’s been a little tough watching [my teammates] get ready and not being on the ice. It’s been really tough" admitted Wagner, who was asked if he’s had any second thoughts about stepping in front of that shot knowing what he now knows. "I just want to stay supportive. We’ve gotten this far, and it’s not about me. It’s about the team. We’ve had that attitude with anybody that’s been in and out of the lineup.

"I told my mom on Sunday that I was going to drop a Bible quote that Jesus said, 'There’s no greater love than laying down your life for a friend.' We’re all friends and we all love each other, so why wouldn’t I do that?”

Wagner scored his only two playoff goals of the postseason in the conference final sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes and was a spark-igniter for the B’s on the fourth line this season, with 12 goals and 19 points while playing a hard-hitting, hard-nosed style.

The Bruins could certainly use Wagner's game against a big, strong Blues bunch that’s going to be looking for an alley fight in the Stanley Cup Final, but they will do it in part for Wagner rather than having him as a contributor after he played the Gregory Campbell role for the B’s in this year’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

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