The return of Connor Clifton to the Boston Bruins roster has proven to be a genius move, with his display in Game 4 highlighting his value to the team.
In Game 4, Connor Clifton had a goal and an assist for the Boston Bruins despite seeing the least action of any defenseman on the team with just 14:37 minutes of ice-time.
He got just as much done in his 24 shifts as Zdeno Chara or Brandon Carlo arguably did, despite them both seeing at least 3 more minutes than him. He might not have the impact of Charlie McAvoy, but he gets his job done without fail.
Not only did he dish out 3 hits, but he absorbed the same amount as the Hurricanes pushed back at the Bruins. He played a strong puck-possession game in his own zone, ending the night with a relative Corsi For of 8.97%.
That number obviously is against a very small sample size of just 14 and a half minutes, but it’s significant when you look to teammates like Carlo with a -0.54% relative Corsi. Granted he wasn’t facing the toughest competition defensively, but he still more than held his own.
Moving on to his point contributions; his assist on Jake DeBrusk’s opening goal was a great piece of defensive play. He not only maintained the puck while under pressure in his defensive zone, but he managed to get the pass away and start the move that led to a goal.
His goal was a perfect one-timer through a crowd in front of James Reimer‘s net. It was the perfect example of a defenseman timing his pinch into the offensive zone in such a manner that he was in the right place, but also wouldn’t have been caught out if possession had turned around.
The Boston Bruins weren’t quite getting the same returns from Jeremy Lauzon, who did shine from time-to-time in the regular season but ultimately doesn’t really have the same playoff pedigree as Connor Clifton.
Of course, we must not forget that Connor Clifton really started to shine this time last year when the Boston Bruins went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Maybe it’s just this time of year suiting him best.
Whatever it is, we hope that he can maintain this level of performance for the Boston Bruins. Having additional threats in the line-up, even on the bottom defensive pairing makes us really hard for other teams to handle!
Statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.