Chris Wagner became a fan favorite among Boston Bruins fans this season.
But it was in the Eastern Conference Final that the Walpole, Mass., native became a part of the Black and Gold’s well-established playoff lore. Wagner blocked a Justin Faulk slap shot in Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes off his right arm. The winger has been out ever since.
It goes without saying that these must be bittersweet times for Wagner, but the 28-year-old had no regrets when talking with reporters during media day.
“Oh yeah. Yeah,” Wagner said when asked if he’d block the shot again if given the choice, via The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa. “It’s Sunday, so I told my mom I’d drop a Bible quote. Jesus said there’s no greater love than laying down your life for your friend. We’re all friends and we all love each other. So why would I not do that?”
The severity of Wagner’s injury still is unknown, but the winger has not yet returned to practice with what is being called an upper-body injury.
“It’s been a little tough watching them get ready and not being on the ice. It’s been really tough,” Wagner said. “But you just want to stay supportive. We’ve gotten this far. It’s not about me. It’s about the team. We’ve had that attitude with whoever’s gone in or out of the lineup. Like we keep saying, ‘Next man up.’ ”
As for the injury itself, it’s been compared to likes of Gregory Campbell, who finished a shift on a broken leg after blocking an Evgeni Malkin shot in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final. Wagner doesn’t think he lives up to that comparison.
“It’s cool, because he is an icon,” Wagner said. “His was probably a little tougher because he had to stay on the ice. I think Sean (Kuraly) got the puck out, so I went straight off. To see comparisons like that, it means a lot to me, because I saw it happen.”
Whether we see Wagner in the Final or not is to be determined, but one thing is for sure, Bruins fans will remember that shot block for some time.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images