We’d been getting a lot of good news on the injury front since Sunday. No one got hurt in the finale, Rick Nash was progressing...good stuff!
The forward is still recovering from a few dozen stitches in his head/ear after being struck in the head by a puck the Saturday before Easter.
Nash hasn’t played since, and has been limited in any skating. Chances are it’s a mixture of stitches making it hard to wear a helmet and (speculation here) concerns about a concussion that are keeping him out of the lineup.
Bruce Cassidy said that Noel Acciari will be taking Nash’s place in the 3C spot, at least to start; he’ll switch with David Backes if he begins to struggle.
With the team all but saying Ryan Donato is not going to play in Game 1, this is what we can probably expect up front, with the assumption that Sean Kuraly is back:
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Rick Nash
Danton Heinen - Noel Acciari - David Backes
Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Tommy Wingels
The loss of Riley Nash is a pretty big deal, to say the least. Not only does it pull a 4th liner in Acciari a spot higher than he should be, but it puts a valuable two-way player and penalty killer on the shelf.
The center match-ups will probably be key to this series: Bergeron vs. Auston Matthews and David Krejci vs. Nazem Kadri on the top two lines, and now Tyler Bozak vs. Noel Acciari on the third line.
That third line match-up is tilted in favor of Toronto; it’d be less tilted if Nash were in.
Here’s to hoping Acciari can continue to bring his hard-nosed game to the third line, and that his new linemates can keep up.