BOSTON -- Matt Grzelcyk has been medically cleared and will likely play for the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Though coach Bruce Cassidy said it was a game-time decision for the defenseman, he also said, "It looks like he will go in."
Grzelcyk missed the past four games because of a concussion sustained in Game 2 on May 29. Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist was suspended one game for boarding by the NHL Department of Player Safety for the hit that knocked Grzelcyk out of the lineup and sent the 25-year-old into the NHL concussion protocol.
"I felt good," Grzelcyk said, of the morning skate on Wednesday. "Obviously really excited to get back in there hopefully. It's been tough watching when you get to this stage, but just trying to stay positive, cheering my teammates, and hopefully get out there tonight and have a good impact."
It had appeared that there was a chance Grzelcyk, who grew up in the shadow of TD Garden, where his father has worked on the Bull Gang -- the changeover crew at the arena -- for decades, could return as early as Game 5, but he was not medically cleared at that point, which wasn't easy for him.
"As a competitor, you want to be out there as quick as possible," he said. "I tried my best to get out there as soon as I could. I think they felt that I probably wasn't 100 percent, even up until maybe a couple of days [ago]. I feel really good right now and obviously they wouldn't clear me if they didn't think that I was 100 percent."
Cassidy said he was not concerned about the layoff for Grzelcyk in terms of getting back to game speed. The defenseman, who has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 19 playoff games, has been skating with the team recently in a non-contact jersey.
"This time of year, you are not into a lot of contact in practice anyway, so he's just going to have to understand because he did obviously live the first two [games], whatever it was, game and a half, in St. Louis," Cassidy said. "He knows they're physical, he's been there, he's been watching, and he knows he's gotta get back in a hurry, make good decisions with it, and take a hit to make a play if that's what's required, and it usually is against this team.
"So that's the challenge in front of him. We've had discussions with him about it and he'll be ready for it."
If Grzelcyk is indeed in the lineup, Cassidy said he expects Connor Clifton to be out. Clifton has played 18 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with five points (two goals, three assists).
For Grzelcyk, given where he grew up and spent most of his life, this is even more meaningful. He has already had a signature moment at TD Garden, having scored the overtime game winner to give Boston University the title in the 2015 Beanpot Tournament.
But an NHL Game 7 for the Bruins would be something on a different scale entirely.
"It's a lot to think about, for sure," Grzelcyk said. "That's what you dream about as a kid growing up in Boston is playing for the Bruins and playing a 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 here.
"I think it'll be important to get back out there and make sure I'm moving my feet early and often and just play a simple game."
Listen: Game 7 preview from NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast