Chris Wagner to play near hometown as Ducks try to end tailspin

Ducks forward Chris Wagner will play for the fourth time this season near his hometown against Boston

Greetings from Boston, where it’s not snowing, for once, after a record-setting winter.

The Ducks plan to make two lineup changes against the Bruins on Thursday night: defenseman Cam Fowler will return after being a healthy scratch for one game, and forward Chris Wagner of nearby Wellesley, Mass., will play for the fourth time this season. Defenseman James Wisniewski and forward Tomas Fleischmann will sit as part of what Coach Bruce Boudreau said would be his final shuffling before he sets his lineup for the remainder of the regular season.

The Ducks, who have lost the first two games on this five-game trip, will have seven regular-season games left after they face the Bruins.

Boston forward David Krejci was expected to play after missing 15 games since he injured his knee Feb. 20. Instead of his usual center spot, he was expected to play on the right wing on Patrice Bergeron's line.

Wagner, who was called up from Norfolk (Va.) of the American Hockey League last week, said he will have about 200 friends and relatives at TD Garden on Thursday. That will give him a substantial bill for tickets. “I’m probably playing for free today,” he said, but he wasn’t complaining.

“This is what I dreamed of doing, especially this game, playing on this ice either with them or against them,” he said of the Bruins, his favorite team when he was a kid. “I could probably recite most of their banners for you. “

Boudreau said Wagner’s birthplace mattered less than the attributes the tenacious forward can bring to a team that has been reeling after giving up 12 goals in losing its last two games.

“Because he’s from here didn’t really come into the equation. We needed a guy, we thought, with a little more grit, a little more sandpaper to his game to play. And Wags, when he’s played for us, has done that,” Boudreau said. “It’s a bonus for him that we’re in his hometown.”

This will be the first time Wisniewski will be scratched since he was acquired from Columbus on March 3. In eight games with the Ducks he has three assists and 13 shots and is -4 defensively. “At the beginning, we rushed him after his broken foot and he never got into the shape we think he should be in,” Boudreau said. “And the last couple games he’s played better. But we thought today and yesterday would be a great day to really get in shape for the run.”

Also, the NHL announced it had suspended Columbus forward Jared Boll three games without pay for an illegal hit to the head of Ducks forward Patrick Maroon on Tuesday. Boll, who has been suspended once and fined twice before, will forfeit $27,419.34. The money will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

In a video posted on the NHL’s website, Patrick Burke of the league’s Department of Player Safety said “the onus was on Boll” to hit Maroon’s body instead of Maroon's head and that “head contact on that play is avoidable.” Maroon was shaken up but stayed in the game.

“I obviously didn’t see the hit but the guys on the bench said it was a dirty hit,” Maroon said Thursday. “They said he should have gotten a penalty for it. I guess it was a dirty hit…. I know I got hit hard, with an elbow in my head, and I didn’t feel good at that point. I thought for sure it was going to be a penalty.

“He plays hard. He plays a hard game. But we all know that it probably was a dirty hit and that’s why he got suspended. I’ve just got to move forward…. Hopefully the league catches more of that.”

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times