Defenseman Kevan Miller and forward Chris Wagner are both unlikely to play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Saturday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.
Miller, who has been sidelined for all 17 games of Boston’s postseason run, suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury, Sweeney said. Sweeney did not share an official update on Wagner, who returned to Boston — and missed the series-clinching win — after blocking a shot with his arm in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I don’t expect Kevan to be ready to play,’’ Sweeney said. “I would be very surprised if Chris is ready to play, but we’ll wait and see.’’
Sweeney is hopeful that defenseman Zdeno Chara will be ready to go in Game 1. Chara was a late scratch for Game 4 against the Hurricanes but was on the ice, in full uniform, to celebrate the sweep. Coach Bruce Cassidy said after the victory that the 42-year-old captain is dealing with “an injury.’’
The circumstances of the game — on the road with a 3-0 series lead — did not contribute to the decision to sit Chara, Sweeney said. If the Hurricanes had forced Game 5, or more, Chara would have been day to day. With more than a week of rest until the Final begins May 27, there’s optimism about his status moving forward.
“We have a lot of time to make the right decision and give him the proper time to take care of something that’s been nagging him,’’ Sweeney said. “I expect him to be fine, but I’m not going to make a proclamation or any promises. I do believe the time will be used effectively and he’ll be fine.’’
If they haven’t already, the Patriots will be getting a call from the Bruins soon.
To help navigate the long layoff, Sweeney and Cassidy have expressed an interest in seeking guidance from external sources — including the reigning Super Bowl champions. While Sweeney noted he doesn’t have a personal relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, he said the organization plans to reach out for insight into how to utilize the extra time off effectively.
As the Patriots know well, there are two weeks between the AFC Championship game and the Super Bowl.
“Hopefully, they’ll be able to share some information with us,’’ Sweeney said.
That being said, Sweeney exhibited little concern about the extended break negatively impacting the Bruins’ play.
He said the team will have the first couple of days off before returning to practice.
“I think in the short term it’s really beneficial for our group,’’ he said. “We have to give guys the appropriate time to recover.’’
Aces on deck
Also getting a call will be Boston’s Black Aces, a select group of Providence Bruins that can provide extra bodies in practice, etc.
“At this stage, it’s all hands on deck,’’ Sweeney said. “They’re all going to come up this week.’’
According to Sweeney, the group is comprised of forwards Anton Blidh, Paul Carey, Peter Cehlarik, Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, and Jordan Szwarz; defenseman Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril; and goaltenders Kyle Keyser and Zane McIntyre. The majority of the players are between ages 20 and 23, with the exception of Carey (30), Szwarz (28), and McIntyre (26).
“We’ve tried to make them understand that they’re not out of sight or out of mind,’’ Sweeney said. “At any point in time, a player can find himself in that stage. We’re going into Game 4, and [Chara’s] all of a sudden not going to play. Things can change quickly. All of our guys are here for a reason, they deserve to be here.’’
Cassidy floated the idea of a potential scrimmage but seemed skeptical about the level of physicality. Regardless of the method, Sweeney said the goal is to simulate “what’s going to be required’’ to win.
“I think our guys know how to practice,’’ he said with a smile. “We’re a team that likes to practice, except [David] Krejci.’’