It wouldn’t be a Game 7 without potential lineup implications for the 2018-19 Boston Bruins, would it?
Enter Matt Grzelcyk: the second-year Bruins defenseman who missed the last four games with a concussion following a head hit from Blues forward Oscar Sundqvist in Game 2. The Charlestown native donned a red no-contact practice jersey during Tuesday’s practice, lending his status bleak for a Game 7 return.
Things progressed Tuesday as Grzelcyk earned medical clearance from team doctors. His status changed from doubtful to game-time decision in a less than 24-hour span. And now Bruce Cassidy should have another talented blue-liner available when the Bruins take the ice for a winner take all Game 7 against the Blues.
“The one thing about Matt if he does go in is that he’s been skating with us,” Cassidy said. “It’s not like he just jumped on the ice yesterday.”
Grzelcyk started skating with his teammates when they returned home from St. Louis following Game 4. Each day pressed without full clearance thus providing doubt of any return to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Bruins missed Grzelcyk’s puck-moving, two-way prowess during the middle of the series. The Blues found holes on Boston’s D at times as the Bruins struggled to transition up ice — especially during 5V5 play — without Grzelcyk.
His potential return gives the Bruins another dynamic defenseman to counter St. Louis’ physical forecheck at even strength. Boston’s 5V5 play improved in Game 6 and Grzelyck’s re-arrival can only help in a winner take all Game 7.
“Obviously I’m really excited to get back in there hopefully,” Grzelcyk said. “It’s been tough watching when you get to this stage, but I’m just trying to stay positive, you know, and cheer on my teammates. And hopefully, I get out there tonight and have a good impact.”
Grzelcyk became a mere spectator when Sundqvist delivered a high hit in Game 2. The latter became the first of two Blues forwards to earn a one-game suspension during the Stanley Cup Final. The former looks to make an impact in front of his hometown crowd on the game’s biggest stage.
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