Bruins’ Defense Was Impressive Against Pittsburgh

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden on February 4, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates with the puck during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden on February 4, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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The Boston Bruins were back to full strength on defense for their second straight matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins at the TD Garden Thursday night.

Well, that last just 40 minutes as Matt Grzelcyk, who had missed the previous two games with a lower-body injury, sustained a different lower-body injury against the Pens and missed the third period. Despite playing the third period with just five defensemen, the Bruins put together one of their more complete efforts in a 4-1 victory.

With Grzelcyk gone for the final 20 minutes, the remaining defensemen continued to play the way they did in the previous 40 minutes and really the previous game against the talented Penguins too.

A strong effort from start to finish on the Bruins blue line against Pittsburgh.

When a defenseman goes down in a game, that means that the parings will shuffle around and guys may be forced to play on their offside for some shifts.

Coach Bruce Cassidy mixed his pairings up for the third period and the results were the same as it was for the first two periods.

The Bruins did a good job of limiting the Penguins’ chances on goalie Jaroslav Halak. Pittsburgh finished the game with 17 shots on net, but of the 17, you would be hard-pressed to find many legitimate scoring chances.

Pittsburgh scored their only goal of the game at 15:03 of the first period when Cody Ceci beat Halak on a well-placed wrist shot from the slot to tie the game 1-1.

After that, the Bruins allowed just 11 shots on net over the final 40 minutes, despite shifting around the defensive pairings.

Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, Kevan Miller, and Jeremy Lauzon played the best game of the season as a unit. Thet kept the front of the near clear for Halak to see most of the chances they had and kept the shots for the most part from far out, giving Halak to have plenty of reaction time.

McAvoy, who led all blueliners with time-on-ice at 23:11, filled in for Grzelcyk on the power play in the third period and assisted on a Patrice Bergeron man-advantage goal. Miller was second with time-on-ice at 21:36 and his partner Lauzon was right behind at 21:26. Zboril finished just under the 20-minute mark at 19:42 and Carlo was at 19:19.

Next. How many injuries can the Bruins survive with?. dark

Coming into the season, there were a lot of questions surrounding just how good the defense is and could be after losing Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara. So far, the results have been good, and look for Connor Clifton to make his way back into the lineup this weekend against the Washington Capitals if Grzelcyk is to miss more time.