Following Saturday morning’s skate at the Boston Bruins practice facility, Warrior Ice Arena, coach Bruce Cassidy announced that defensemen Matt Grzelcyk was going to miss the game later that night against the Philadelphia Flyers with a lower-body injury he sustained in Thursday night’s 5-4 shootout victory at the TD Garden in the home opener.
Losing Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara to free agency was a big blow to the Bruins blue line coming into the season. Going with a younger group, there was going to be a lot of questions early in the season that needed to be answered, as well as some growing pains.
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There are questions surrounding just how much depth Boston has after the top three of Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo. While that trio is expected to lead the unit, if one was out for any amount of time, what would the defense look like?
For one night, the defense passed the test without one of the top blueliners.
Bruins’ defense was outstanding without their top power play unit defensemen.
The Bruins defense put down the clamps on the Flyers in their best 60-minute effort of the season. They allowed just four first-period shots, eight in the second and just five in the third on goalie Jaroslav Halak.
The defense did a nice job of keeping the Flyers away from Halak and blocking shots. The group combined for seven blocked shots, with Lauzon and McAvoy leading the way with two. Clifton made his presence felt in his season debut with four hits.
Boston’s power play was another area where Grzelcyk would be missed as he has taken over the role of Krug as the quarterback on the top unit. McAvoy replaced Grzelcyk with Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Nick Ritchie. After going just 1-for-8 in the previous three games, the unit found the back of the net three times on four chances.
McAvoy had an assist on Bergeron’s third-period power play goal, while Zboril filled in for McAvoy with the unit earlier in the period and set up Marchand for his second tally of the night.
Without Grzelcyk, there were a lot of questions as to how the Bruins defense would play for 60 minutes against the talented Flyers. The group put together their best effort of the young season to help secure their second consecutive victory over Philadelphia in two days.