By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins will be without at least one fourth liner for Monday’s do-or-die Game 5 against the Lightning, as Bruce Cassidy confirmed Sunday that Chris Wagner has been ruled out of action.
Wagner is the only definite among a group of potential Game 5 absences that could include Nick Ritchie, as well as Sean Kuraly, who was deemed unfit to play in Games 3 and 4.
“Wagner will be unavailable [Monday],” Cassidy said. “The other guys, Kuraly skated, [he’s] progressing. Ritchie and Wagner did not. We’ll see how Ritchie is [Monday].”
The 29-year-old Wagner, who did not skate in the third period, finished Game 4 with a playoff-low 6:33 of action, and has one assist and 22 hits in nine postseason games this summer. The Walpole, Mass. native even slid up to the B’s third line with Ritchie and Charlie Coyle when the Bruins went with a seven-defensemen approach in Game 3.
With Wagner out and with Kuraly’s status uncertain, the Bruins could have a seriously different looking fourth line with Par Lindholm and Joakim Nordstrom joined by Karson Kuhlman or one of Anders Bjork or Jack Studnicka. Both players could end up joining Boston’s Game 5 lineup, actually, with Ritchie up in the air as well.
But to survive another day, the Bruins know that the production will have to come from the top of their roster.
“I think our core will,” Cassidy said when asked who will have to step up for the Bruins to stave off elimination on Monday. “They have to. Your best players need to be your best players. You need your core guys. I believe they’ll lead us. But defense needs to be good. Especially against this club. We need to help Jaro out with the quality of shots we’re giving him.
“That’s our goal tomorrow: Core, lead the way. Support guys, follow. Leaders and followers. That’s typically how we’ve been good and it won’t change tomorrow.”
The Bruins have never come down from a 3-1 series deficit, having lost all 23 prior series in this scenario.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.