Bruins Game 1 lines: Wagner, Clifton give B's gritter, more physical look


BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Bruins will opt for a bit of a heavier, grittier lineup against a bigger, stronger and tougher Columbus Blue Jackets team, as hard-hitting Connor Clifton and gritty Chris Wagner both draw back in for Game 1 on Thursday night at TD Garden.

Clifton was out with an injury following Game 2 of team's first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Maple Leafs, but he’ll draw in for John Moore (upper body injury), who is day-to-day after playing in Boston’s Game 7 win over Toronto. Wagner will replace Karson Kuhlman in a lineup decision made by the Bruins coaching staff, meaning he’ll slot into the third line right wing alongside Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle.

One would expect Wagner, in particular, to be breathing fire on the ice after being scratched for Games 6 and 7 against the Maple Leafs.

“It’s definitely not easy, but you want to be supportive. You put a smile on and we won,” said Wagner. “I’m obviously pumped about that. It was fun to be a part of in general. You obviously don't want to sit for Game 6 or Game 7, but it is what it is and we move on."

Clearly the B’s are wary of the Blue Jackets’ offensive firepower, but it’s also clear they are going to be bigger, stronger and more physical than the Leafs were in Round 1.

“We’re resetting and we want to balance that physicality with the foot speed. As the series goes on we’ll see who best fits,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Every forward played in that last series [against Toronto] and it could very well happen again.”

With the B’s opting for a few tougher customers in Clifton and Wagner, here is the projected Bruins lineup for Game 1 vs. Columbus based on Thursday’s morning skate:




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