The Bruins return to the ice Friday night, and Chris Wagner is ready for the stretch run.
The Walpole native and former South Shore King has appeared in 49 of the Bruins’ 51 games this season, posting four goals and four assists mostly on the team’s fourth line.
Boston.com caught up with Wagner for a hockey-ish interview just prior to the Bruins’ nine-day break for the NHL All-Star Game.
What’s your diet like in-season?
We don’t really have a meal plan. We just try to — on game days we have kind of a set thing, eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch, salmon, whole wheat pasta or quinoa or something. Then after the game you usually have a protein shake or something like that. Some guys have really good metabolisms and kinda can eat whatever they want. Guys like me, I have to pay attention to what I eat.
I mainly just eat a lot of greens. I like fish a lot, too. Oh, and I’m a big sushi guy.
Take us inside a typical road trip. What do you do in your free time?
It’s kinda tough. On the East Coast you’re usually in and out of cities because everything’s so close. When we go to the West Coast we get to kind of hang out a little more because it’s an extended trip. This year we got to golf in Scottsdale on a day off. We got to see Fort Lauderdale. You don’t really get time in many places, so when you do get a day off you try to make the best of it. Our schedule this year has been pretty tough.
Who hangs out with who?
On this team it’s pretty good, everybody’s hanging out with each other. Like honestly I don’t think I’ve gone to dinner with the same crew once. We keep it pretty light, so that’s why we get along so well.
Who’s your favorite teammate to have a beer with?
That’s a tough one. I’ve probably had the most beers with [Sean] Kuraly, [Charlie] McAvoy, [Matt] Grzelcyk, so I’ll say one of them.
What’s it been like playing at home again? Is there anything hard about it?
Last year was awesome, especially one game away from winning the Cup.
You get the random people asking me for tickets. A lot of people want autographs and stuff to give to someone who might have known me when I was 7 years old. Other than that, it’s been pretty good. I give credit to my family for that because they kind of block everything out. They take care of the outside distractions.
I like hanging out with my friends away from the rink sometimes just because it takes my mind off hockey.
Did you root for the Bruins growing up?
Yes, I rooted for the Bruins until I got to college (at Colgate) and a bit during college.
Who was your favorite player when you were young?
My favorite player was Eric Lindros. I wore No. 88 during my youth hockey days.
You mentioned Game 7. How has that game last year impacted you guys at all?
I think we just know we’re a pretty similar team. We can get back there if we play the right way. It’s just a long year. It’s tough, going from playing Game 7 to playing games in October that don’t mean as much.
But we know it’s about the process. It’s kind of nice now that we’re starting to get to February and March and April. It gets really exciting this time of year.
You played yesterday (Jan. 19 against Pittsburgh), you play tomorrow. How does recovery work for you?
You try to sleep as much as you can. Yesterday’s different because we played a 12:30 game. We got back at 6, which is nice. You have dinner, hang out. But there’ve been stretches this year we play back-to-backs on the road. I think February we have four or five back-to-backs, which is tough.
My thing for me, when you’re away from the rink maybe you watch your shifts from the night before, but other than that try not to focus on hockey as much and give your mind a rest.
What’s the hardest turnaround you’ve had?
The one that sticks out to me this year is we played Washington and Tampa back-to-back. Those two teams are good teams, and it was travel, too.
But we can’t complain that much. We’re flying around on private planes.
Hockey players always play hurt. Do you guys ever talk about your injuries with each other?
I think it’s gotten better because of the concussion stuff. People want to be careful about that. Bumps and bruises I think everybody plays with, doesn’t make a big deal about it. Overall I think it’s a little more relaxed now than it was when I started playing eight years ago. But we’re definitely one of the tougher sports to play.
Why do you think the team has struggled in shootouts?
I don’t know. I think now it’s kind of a mental thing, where you’re going one-on-one with a goalie and you think, ‘Man, I need to score,’ instead of just relax and kind of doing your move. A lot of those games shouldn’t have gone to shootouts anyway, with some of the leads we’ve blown. And even overtime, too. You have lots of opportunities to score. It’s easy to blame the shootout, but that’s not the main point.
You guys have so much talent. How is a player like [David] Pastrnak so good at scoring in games but not great at shootouts?
Most of his goals are reactionary goals. He’s taking one-timers when goalies are out of position. Shootouts, goalies get to get set. I’d rather have someone chasing me than kind of have my own timeline to shoot the puck. You tend to think way more, and that gets in the way sometimes.
Last game you had seven hits. Is that a conscious thing you do going in?
It all depends. Sometimes you don’t wanna have that many hits because you don’t have the puck that much. If I get a chance to finish a hit then I have to. That’s part of my game, and that’s part of our makeup as a team really. Pittsburgh’s a skilled team. Any chance you have to be hard on their skilled players you have to be. But seven’s a lot.