Bruins’ Young Defense Will Face Challenges in Stanley Cup Playoffs


Mar 21, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Chad Johnson (30) is congratulated for the win by defenseman Kevan Miller (86) and defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Bruins defeated the Avalanche 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins Blueliners in 2014 Playoffs

In a Boston Bruins’ team that maintains a young, inexperienced defense, the Stanley Cup Playoffs becomes a time of extreme focus and determination. You can expect Dougie Hamilton, Kevan MillerMatt Bartkowski and even the postseason-wizard Torey Krug to arrive into Friday night’s matchup with a chip on their shoulders.

Backgrounds on Julien’s Defensemen

Hamilton, at 20 years of age, was one of the Bruins’ most promising prospects two years ago, drafted 1st overall by the B’s in the 2011 NHL Entry draft. Since then, the Canadien appeared in 104 regular season games for Boston. He has showed off his boundless potential, especially in 2013-14 totaling a 22 plus/minus ratio and 25 points.

In this NHL term, the Bruins called up the 26-year-old Miller from Providence after he spent three seasons on the B’s AHL affiliate. Tough and lively, the former University of Vermont standout made 47 appearances for the Bruins through the end of this month. He should see a decent amount of time in the coming games.

The Florida Panthers drafted Bartkowski in 2008, but the B’s acquired him in the 2010 Seidenberg deal. Also a Catamount, the Pittsburgh native has played sporadically for the Bruins starting in ’10. In 2013-14, Bartkowski delivered 67 appearances for the Bruins and counted 18 assists.

Last but definitely not least is Torey Krug. In the postseason a year ago, Boston’s Energizer Bunny exploded onto the scene out of nowhere, playing only one game in a NHL Bruins’ uniform prior to the playoffs. He ended up numbering six points in 15 contests before the Bruins finally lost the Chicago Blackhawks. Krug is currently equal to Chara for the most points by a B’s defenseman (40) in 2013-14.

Facing Injuries

In the playoffs, the triumphs of the regular season serve as a great foundation for success. And the Bruins’ defensemen, lacking Dennis Seidenberg for the majority of the season, came together nicely in the past few months—a cohesive group and one of the best defenses in the NHL.

Peter Chiarelli, the Bruins GM, recently detailed that Seidenberg, despite speculation, won’t be back anytime in the near future.

“We’re not counting on Dennis to be back,” said Chiarelli, as per Joe McDonald of “We’re going to be very cautious with his injury. He has been skating, but that’s all I can say on it. It really hasn’t changed.”

Adam McQuaid is still treating his quad injury from Jan. 19, as setbacks in his recovery have plagued the veteran defenseman.

In the end, the younger Bruins’ D-men will find themselves in the midst of a unfamiliar territory, being led on the ice by only two established Bruins, Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara. Both of these skaters will have to keep that regular season foundation sturdy, preventing an early collapse while sustaining consistent efforts to the end of each series.

Without their grade A performances, the Bruins could stumble because Chara and Boychuk are the habituated anchors of this defense alongside Tuukka Rask. Bartkowski, Miller and others would have to take immense challenges head on, revealing how much they’ve actually matured.