Such are the options for the Boston Bruins on the blue-line, Matt Grzelcyk often ends up a bit of a forgotten man, but he quietly shone versus the Canes.
In the series with the Hurricanes, only Charlie McAvoy (112:25) saw more even-strength ice than Matt Grzelcyk, who saw 89:43. On-ice, Grzelcyk was near dominant helping the Boston Bruins maintain puck control, with a Corsi For of 59.17% and a Fenwick For of 60.33% reflecting this.
Relative to his teammates, both of those scores were positive, likewise when it came to Shots For; the Boston Bruins had 55 shots with him on-ice, while the Canes were limited to just 31.
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It gets even better when you look to even-strength Expected Goals; when Grzelcyk was on the ice, the Bruins had a remarkable Expected Goals of 69.98%.
While he may have failed to tally any points to match this dominance, that didn’t greatly matter as Bruce Cassidy showed great trust regardless, giving him second-unit powerplay time as well as a little penalty killing time.
The Boston Bruins have rekindled a pairing that dates back to college, with Charlie McAvoy shining in the first round, in part due to seeing more ice-time with his good friend. Grzelcyk also definitely benefited from partnering McAvoy.
Only two defensive pairings saw more ice-time across the series; the obvious one in Torey Krug with Brandon Carlo and the long-held McAvoy and Zdeno Chara combo. However, as the series progressed, Cassidy certainly trusted that pair less and started using Grzelcyk in Chara’s spot a little more often.
The statistics paint an undeniable picture that the Boston Bruins tilted the ice much more so when Grzelyck and McAvoy were out there. The question is whether it was purely a nice match-up against the Canes’ forward group or whether it is likely to remain a prolonged pairing.
Against the likes of the New York Islanders or Tampa Bay Lightning, you’d have to imagine it’d be sensible to keep them together, especially as both teams can move with such speed that Chara may prove the wrong option.
Matt Grzelcyk is certainly starting to come out of his shell for the Bruins; let’s hope he continues to see the ice-time and line-up spot he deserves.
Statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.