Boston Bruins forward Chris Wagner will not play in Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night and forwards Sean Kuraly and Nick Ritchie will be game-time decisions as the Bruins try to stave off elimination.
“Yeah, as I said [Sunday] Wagner is out today; Kuraly and Ritchie both skated, varying results. We’ll see tonight, they’ll be game-time decisions,” Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told the media Monday.
If Kuraly misses his third straight game and Ritchie is a no-go as well, Cassidy will turn to Anders Bjork and rookie Jack Studnicka to jump in on the third line surrounding center Charlie Coyle.
“If they’re not able to play, obviously Lindholm stays in. ‘Nordy’ [Joakim Nordstrom], put ‘Kuhly’ [Karson Kuhlman] on that line and go, Coyle, Bjork, and Studnicka,” Cassidy said. “The top two lines will stay the same. Again, we’re not completely ruling them out but that is the practice lines we had yesterday and on D would be the same.”
Wagner left the Bruins’ 3-1 loss in Game 4 early playing just 12 shifts for 6:33. Kuraly hasn’t played since Game 2 when he had an assist in 22 shifts and 14:36.
Ritchie played 15 shifts for 10:18 in Game 4 but his health wasn’t why many were left wondering if the 6-foot-2, 230-pound winger will be left in the lineup for Game 5. Ritchie took a minor penalty in the first period and then a five-minute boarding major for a late hit on Lightning forward Yanni Gourde in the second period that led to a powerplay goal by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman that put the Lightning up 3-0 with 56 seconds left in the middle frame. Ritchie was not thrown out of the game though and received no supplemental discipline from the NHL Department Of Player Safety.
Here’s an educated guess of what the Bruins lineup will look like for what they hope isn’t their final game of this bizarre 2019-20 season and 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs: