By Carrie Salls | Follow me on Twitter @nittgrl73
Boston Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy indicated on Monday that the lineup for Wednesday’s series-deciding seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals will probably look just like the one that took the ice for Sunday’s 5-1 victory, with one possible exception that seemed even less likely as the week progressed. If those plans hold up, that means former St. Louis Blues captain David Backes will once again watch the game from the TD Garden press box.
Backes has been in and out of the lineup throughout the playoffs. He was a healthy scratch for game five when Cassidy opted to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in an effort to boost the strength of a banged-up blue line. Backes also was scratched for game six in favor of the speedier Karson Kuhlman.
The decision to insert Kuhlman in the second line left wing slot that Backes had been occupying paid off for Cassidy, with Kuhlman scoring a goal and helping the second line put forth a solid effort in the win. As a result, it makes sense for the coach to stick with Kuhlman for the final game. For his part, Backes seems to be glad to play whatever role he is assigned in the team’s quest for the Cup.
Backes on playing/not playing in Game 6: “If my part’s grabbing the pom-poms again, I’ll shake those things ’til all the frills fall out of them.”
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) June 8, 2019
Chris Wagner is another season-long contributor who likely will not dress for Wednesday’s game. Wagner, who suffered an arm injury when he blocked a shot in the third game of Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes, somewhat surprisingly participated in practice leading up to Sunday’s game six. Wagner was a full participant in Tuesday’s final practice of the season, as well. However, Cassidy’s plans for game seven do not include inserting Wagner back into the mix, even if he is healthy enough to play.
With fourth liners Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari racking up first line-type minutes and contributing on the score sheet throughout the series, it would be difficult for Cassidy to justify sitting any of them in game seven to make room for Wagner. So, it appears as if the Walpole native will be joining Backes on the ninth floor cheering on his teammates on Wednesday.
.@NHLBruins F Chris Wagner, who’s been out since Carolina series with injury after a huge block in Game 3, skating. Inspiration?
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) June 8, 2019
That brings us to the player Cassidy dubbed “the wild card” when discussing his lineup for game seven: Matt Grzelcyk. Charlestown’s Grzelcyk was placed in concussion protocol following a hit that forced him out of game two.
Although Grzelcyk has returned to practicing with the team and with the Black Aces, most of that time, he has been donning a red non-contact jersey. Before the game on Sunday, it was announced that he had still not cleared concussion protocol, meaning he could not play in game six. Grzelcyk was still in the non-contact jersey for Tuesday’s practice, making any potential return to game action even less likely.
Even if Grzelcyk is cleared for game seven, Cassidy said there was no guarantee he would play. John Moore has been filling in during Grzelcyk’s absence, and either Moore or Connor Clifton would probably be relegated to a healthy scratch if Grzelcyk does play.
Bruce Cassidy says Matt Grzelcyk is “a wild card” for Game 7. It sounds like even if Grzelcyk is cleared, he still might not play. Cassidy: “We’ll have to make that decision if he gets cleared. He’s missed some  games now. Do you want to mess with the back end?”
— Nicole Yang (@nicolecyang) June 10, 2019
Here is the expected lineup for game seven, based on the lines at Tuesday’s practice.
#NHLBruins practice lines:
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman
Johansson – Coyle – Heinen
Nordstrom – Kuraly – Acciari
Backes – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Moore – Clifton
Grzelcyk – Kampfer
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 11, 2019