BOSTON - As they get set for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night, the Bruins could be getting a boost on the back end.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said during his morning press conference that Matt Grzelcyk has been cleared to play and will be a game-time decision. Cassidy added that it "looks like he'll go in" and would replace Connor Clifton on Boston's third pairing.
"We've kind of discussed that internally about all three, sort of, options with John Moore in that mix, but that's how it's shaping up," said Cassidy. "I guess we'll see at puck drop how Matt is. He's going to go out and skate this morning just to make sure."
Grzelcyk has not played since Game 2 of the Cup Final when he was hit from behind by St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist, who was suspended one game for an illegal check to the head. The blue liner began skating again late last week, joining the group for practice donning a maroon non-contact jersey, but had not been cleared until Tuesday.
"I felt good, obviously really excited to get back in there hopefully," said Grzelcyk. "It's been tough watching when you get to this stage, but just trying to stay positive and cheer on my teammates and hopefully get out there tonight and have a good impact."
Video: Grzelcyk potential to return to lineup in Game 7
The 25-year-old has been itching to get back in the lineup since he returned to practice, but had to follow the direction of the team's medical staff.
"As a competitor you want to be out there as quick as possible," said Grzelcyk. "I tried my best to get out there as soon as I could. I think they felt that I was probably wasn't 100 percent leading up until maybe a couple days [ago]. I feel really good right now and obviously they wouldn't clear me if I wasn't 100 percent. Hopefully get out there tonight and play a good game."
For Grzelcyk, who grew up across the river from TD Garden in Charlestown, the idea of helping the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title is hard to process.
"It's a lot to think about for sure," said Grzelcyk. "That's what you dream about as a kid growing up in Boston is playing for the Bruins and playing in Game 7 in the Boston Garden. Obviously there's quite a lot weighing on my mind.
"But just trying to do my best to keep my emotions in check and just go out there and play a pretty simple game, especially missing a couple games. I think it will be important to get back out there and make sure I'm moving my feet early and often."
Video: Cassidy talks Grzelcyk, Game 7
No Time to Think
Cassidy often talks about trying to motivate his players by asking them to think about what they want their legacy to be. But when the coach was asked about his should the Bruins win the Cup on Wednesday night, he deferred - in the best way possible.
"We use that word around here, but I think it's for much later, so I haven't thought about mine personally," said Cassidy. "I just want my name on the damn Cup. That's what I want, and then you can talk about it however you want later on."
Zdeno Chara is expected to play in his 14th career Game 7 on Wednesday night, which would be the most in NHL history. He is 6-7 in his career, with the first coming in 2004 against Toronto while he played for the Ottawa Senators.
"It's always fun to play in these Game 7s," said Chara. "First one was with Ottawa against Toronto, very intense. I think that you've just to realize you've got to lay everything on the line, play your best game."
Patrice Bergeron, meanwhile, will suit up for his 12th career Game 7, which will be tied for third-most all-time should Chara suit up.
It will be the 28th Game 7 in Bruins' history, extending their NHL record. It is the first Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in Boston and the first winner-take-all championship game in the city since the Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in 1984.
It is the first Game 7 in a Cup Final since the Bruins defeated Vancouver in 2011.
Video: Krug and Pastrnak talk big Game 7
A Rousing Start
When Chara was cleared to play in Game 5 following his facial injury, Cassidy put him in the starting lineup. And when the B's captain was announced before puck drop, Chara received a rousing standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd, which he reflected on following Tuesday's practice.
"I didn't expect it," said Chara. "I was overwhelmed by the response of the crowd. Very humbling and so honored to get that kind of a pregame crowd being involved in cheering. It just shows how passionate the Boston fans are. Very much appreciate it. We are so thankful they are so behind us and cheering us on."
Video: Chara set to play 14th Game 7
Wednesday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - John Moore
Scratches: David Backes, Connor Clifton, Steven Kampfer, and Chris Wagner.
Video: McAvoy discusses final game of the season