Just like it was examined by the forward group, it will now focus on the defensive group. With key players out with injury and depth being at the forefront, it’ll remain to be seen what six guys go out there come playoff time. Here is what a Boston Bruins Projected Lineup could look like once the playoffs start.
Boston Bruins Projected Lineup
This Boston Bruins defensive core is deep. It was deep before the acquisition of Dmitry Orlov and is even deeper now. Depth has been at the forefront with Jakub Zboril entering the lineup, but as an everyday starter that remains to be seen. With Derek Forbort out for the regular season, it gives other players the ability to gel and develop chemistry. However, there is a good chance he could be ready come playoff time. One player would need to sit, do let’s dive into what a Boston Bruins projected lineup could look like.
Top Consistent Pairs
For the majority of the season prior to the acquisitions, there have been three consistent pairs. Here are the pairs:
Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy
The duo is an offensive-driven tandem. Together they have the seventh-best xGoals for per 60 minutes. They’ve performed better than expected and average 3.49 goals for per 60 minutes while only averaging 1.49 goals against per 60. McAvoy is the anchor on the back end and the workhorse. He has seen numerous partners, but regardless of who he plays with, he will always be on the top pair.
Hampus Lindholm-Brandon Carlo
Say what you will, but this is arguably the best pair on the backend. The duo is great at suppressing chances as they have an xGoals against of 2.2. In addition, this ranks them 22nd overall among pairs that have logged more than 100 minutes. The pair has played better than the expectations and averages 1.66 goals against per 60 minutes. They have an xGoals% of 55..4%, which ranks middle of the pack for the qualified pair. Individually they have both stood out and together they have formed one of the better pairs in the entire league.
Derek Forbort-Connor Clifton
If one pair gets tinkered with, it is the third pair. It is not a knock on these two players, but the third pair has been the weakest of the three. This duo has been on the ice for the same goals against as the goals for. Their xGoals% is below 50%, and they are at the bottom amongst all Bruins combinations that qualify in this regard.
Stats Come From Money Puck
Derek Forbort plays on the left side. That is where the congestion lies. As it currently stands, Head Coach Jim Montgomery is tinkering and experimenting with his pairs. In addition, it does give guys rest as the playoffs draw closer, but the question remains; who sits when game one begins?
This is the obvious considering the injury. How ready will he be? Is it worth sitting someone else? One reason he could draw in, is the penalty kill. The Boston Bruins are better on the penalty kill with him than without. Without him, the team has a penalty kill percentage of 77.9%. However, with him it is 88.4%.
Aside from that, Forbort has the worst Corsi For Percentage and XGoals percentage. One area he does do well in is the high danger area. As valuable as he is in one key situation, it remains to be seen if he takes the lineup.
Not a chance that this guy sits. He has been everything you could ask for. Orlov sits first in Corsi For, and has only been on the ice for four goals against. His two way game is like no other and his ability to generate chances is evidenced. In addition, no matter what pair he is on he makes that pair thrive. Here is what it looks like as a pair so far:
XGoals For: 3.78
XGoals Against: 2.45
Together the pair has generated their chances offensively, while also suppressing chances of the opposition. Orlov has the ability to play top pair minutes while also playing on the Powerplay.
XGoals For: 3.2
XGoals Against: 1.39
This pair has allowed 0 goals together. That’s dynamite. Regardless of the matchups or easier minutes, that’s legit. Together they have performed better than expected as they’ve averaged 4.17 goals for per 60 minutes. The point is, Orlov is a lock to play on the left side and regardless of who he is with, he will thrive.
The only knock against Grzelcyk is his ability to get pushed around during the playoffs. Being a smaller guy, players tend to push him around and knock him off his game. Grzelcyk is a great puck handler, ability to transition forward, and has the ability to produce. Grzelcyk is third on the blueline in even strength points. In addition, he is second in iCF with 156 chances generated. This is a guy that has been a solid player for the Bruins over the last few seasons.
Injuries will keep Forbort out, and the team can rely on Brandon Carlo to kill penalties. Having someone play their off side is not ideal, but with the emergence of Orlov it has softened the blow and made life easier.