Boston Bruins Need Young Defense To Step Up And Play


Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins are going to be starting their season without Dennis Seidenberg, and could be without the services of their captain and number one defenseman Zdeno Chara too. With that in mind, it’s clear the Bruins are going to be depending on some of their younger defensemen to step up and play some serious minutes to make up for the injuries. The Bruins will likely start the season with Torey Krug, Zach Trotman, Adam McQuaid, Matt Irwin, Joe Morrow, Kevan Miller and Colin Miller on their roster. The most inexperienced players out of that group of defensemen are Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, and Colin Miller, who will all be played in varying degrees if Chara remains out of the lineup to start the season.

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At the Bruins most recent media day Zdeno Chara answered a few questions regarding his injury status. He was tight-lipped when asked about how well he was recovering from the injury, simply responding: “I skated today.” And when asked about his ability to shoot pucks, Chara repeated “I skated today.” It’s clear that Chara is staying in line with the way the Bruins typically operate when dealing with injuries, although he did open up a little bit more as the questions persisted. “Today was better than it was yesterday,” he said. “If it keeps improving, we’ll see how it’s going to be next week.”

Chara is a true warrior and holds himself accountable for any negative impact his injury may have for his team. “It’s not just the games. I hate missing practice. I hate missing skating with the guys,” he said. “But at the same time, I know it’s a process that you need to go through.” When healthy, Chara has been one of the driving forces for the Bruins on both offense and defense, unfortunately for the Bruins, Chara is 38 and injuries are seemingly building up for the six-foot-nine defender. Trotman, Morrow, and Miller will have very large shoes to fill if they are tasked with replacing the minutes that Chara plays, on top of the minutes that Seidenberg plays as well.

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  • Zach Trotman was already considered a virtual lock for the Bruins roster before the injuries to Seidenberg and Chara occurred. at six-foot-three and 219 pounds, Trotman has the size necessary to slow down opposing players, and he proved it by playing in the third toughest zone-starts of any Bruins defensemen last season, behind only Chara and McQuaid. In addition to that, only Chara and Dougie Hamilton had a better Corsi percentage than Trotman among Bruins defenders with at least 25 games played as Trotman finished with a Corsi percentage of 52.9 (All stats used were found on Trotman won’t replace the points of Zdeno Chara while he’s out with injury, but that’s where Miller and Morrow come into play.

    When talking about Colin Miller, general manager Don Sweeney has some good things to say. “Colin’s always been able to shoot the puck,” He also said, “He skates well. His first pass has generally been very good. He zips it. He does think the game on the offensive side of it, tipped 60-40, let’s say, and 70-30 at times. I think he’s built into his game that conviction piece of learning how to defend. It’s not just about getting the puck and going. It’s realizing that playing without it is equally important.” The Bruins value play away from the puck, and Miller may have shown in the preseason that he has good awareness, whether the puck is on his stick or not.  While Miller is clearly a more offensive-defenseman, his defensive game wasn’t a liability in the preseason for the most part. With solid hits and smooth skating, Miller has clearly put an effort into becoming a more responsible defender. The same can be said for Joe Morrow, who has expanded his game from an offensive-defenseman to more of a two-way game.

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    Joe Morrow has played extremely well for the Bruins in training camp and the preseason, doing everything well. From skating, to passing, to shooting, and back-checking, Morrow has flashed signs of a legitimate top-four defenseman. Claude Julien had nothing but good things to say about Morrow when asked following one of the Bruins preseason games this season: “If you ask me for a rating, (Morrow) got a real good rating.” When discussing the difficult situation the young defensemen were being forced into due to the Bruins injuries on defense, Julien went on to say: “So, I thought those guys handled themselves well, but Joe was really good in my mind.” Morrow projects to start in the top-four with the Bruins, and if he can cement himself well enough before Chara and Seidenberg return to the lineup, the Bruins will have a good problem with figuring out who should drop outside of the top-four.

    Follow Brandon Share-Cohen on Twitter @BShareCohen to discuss all things Bruins and sports