The Boston Bruins defence was somewhat suspect to begin the season. There were far too many unknown variables that would factor into this group. Some established young stars were being handed the reins to a group that was respected around the entire NHL. Now the face of this group, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk have helped show the league that this young core is ready for the challenges ahead. As they are taking on the New York Islanders in the second round, you have to wonder if injuries will play a large factor in the outcome of this series.
Injuries to Boston Bruins Defence Could Expose Weaknesses on the Blueline
One of the biggest challenges facing the Boston Bruins defence is injuries. Brandon Carlo has been a victim of several big hits this season. The latest came in Game 3 of their series against the Islanders. As a player with a history of concussions, it was concerning to see the young defenceman have a difficult time getting off the ice with an apparent head injury. With other key players at the blue-line injured as well, Boston’s core is suffering from depth issues.
Boston Bruins Defence Who Are Injured
As it stands, Carlo’s injury is the most significant, in that he is the best player out of the lineup with an injury. With that said, he could be out short-term. Some sources including 98.5 The Sports Hub have reported that Carlo seemed to be in decent condition following the team’s last contest. While his status is still uncertain, he has not been officially ruled out of Saturday’s game. Most recently, he was listed as day-to-day on Boston’s injury report.
Kevan Miller was the victim of a significant open-ice collision in the first round of the playoffs. After taking the hit, he was transported to a local hospital with an undisclosed injury. He has not returned to the Bruins’ lineup since the injury occurred in Game 4 against the Washington Capitals. Miller is currently listed on the injury report as out and he will likely not play until after Game 4 against the New York Islanders.
Steven Kampfer and John Moore
Steven Kampfer and John Moore are two of Boston’s go-to guys when they are looking for an injury replacement. Moore was placed on injured reserve earlier in the season and will not play again until next year, at the earliest. Kampfer, while not on injured reserve, is recovering from hand surgery and is unlikely to return. Both are instrumental depth pieces to the Boston Bruins’ defence.
A Bright Spot in a Bleak Situation
The various injuries to Boston’s defence have opened a door. Urho Vaakanainen has not been given an opportunity to play consistent NHL minutes. Some would argue that he is ready for a full-time NHL role. The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa is reporting that he is a possible fill-in for the next game should Carlo be unavailable.
Jarred Tinordi, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril are available if Brandon Carlo cannot go in Game 4.
— Fluto Shinzawa (@FlutoShinzawa) June 4, 2021
Jarred Tinordi would be another good fit in this role on a limited basis. Tinordi brings a massive presence to the ice with his 6′-6″ frame. The defenceman he would be replacing in Carlo is also rather large, standing 6′-5″. Size is something Boston’s defence doesn’t possess. Bringing Tinordi into the lineup could bring an intimidation factor that is missing without Carlo. The one downside to both Vaakanainen and Tinordi is that both are left-shot blue liners. Carlo typically plays on the right side so whoever fills in will be on their opposite side. That could bring some sense of unfamiliarity the Islanders could try to expose.
Forwards Taking the Reins
Another positive for Boston coming out of this is that they have some of the better defensive forwards in the NHL. Patrice Bergeron is heralded as one of the best defensive forwards of all time, even if he is somewhat past his prime. He has not been the only one to step up. Taylor Hall has been a surprise in this regard. Throughout his career, Hall has been known as a scorer, not for his 200-foot game. In recent games, we have seen his backchecking break up a few Islanders’ scoring chances. Hall has been able to disrupt offensive opportunities with greater success than anticipated. If there is a roster out there with the forwards equipped to support a weak blue-line, it’s Boston’s.
The Boston Bruins will take on the New York Islanders in Game 4 on Saturday night. Should the Bruins prevail, they will have a 3-1 series lead. Brandon Carlo will hopefully be making his return to the Boston Bruins’ defence after the next game.