Let’s check in on the Bruins’ defensive depth chart, shall we?
Brandon Carlo? Day to day.
Adam McQuaid? Day to day.
Torey Krug? Out.
Colin Miller? Possible for tonight’s tilt. So yay.
With Amelie Benjamin just breaking the news that Tommy Cross and Matt Grzelcyk have been recalled from Providence on an emergency basis, what can we say about the Bruins’ back end that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan. It looks bombed out and depleted. (RIP, Buc Nasty)
The defenders themselves are not the problem. After a disastrous 2015-16 campaign seeing them finish 19th in goals against, the Bruins jumped back up to 9th this season. There were not wholesale changes made in the personnel department, so why did the same defensemen perform so much better this year? Deployment, deployment, deployment. Kevan Miller, 3rd pairing defenseman, is something that I can live with. Sending him out with Colin Miller to face teams 3rd and 4th lines is the perfect home for him. Pairing him up with Torey Krug on the 2nd pairing, or Zdeno Chara for top minutes?
When the Bruins defenders are slotted in their proper roles, this team clicks. But we’ve seen over the past two or three years what happens when guys are bumped up, particularly due to injuries, skating minutes they are ill-equipped for. Inevitably Chara takes on more minutes than any 40-year-old man should, his effectiveness in that extended ice time suffers, and that ball of shit keeps rolling down hill.
Tonight, the Bruins will have a 2nd pairing of Joe Morrow and Kevan Miller: an ideal 3rd pairing, sure, but not exactly who you want to throw out there against the Stalberg-Brassard-Ryan line. And the 3rd pairing? John-Michael Liles and Tommy Cross?
Now for some good news. David Krejci should be in the lineup tonight. The Bruins’ offense has not given us much cause for concern thus far, but with a decimated blueline, a chaotic pond hockey game may favor the home team. With Krejci in, Ryan Spooner, who I believe has been great lately, shifts down to the third line, giving this team three legitimate scoring lines and a skilled fourth line.
Game two may come back to haunt this team. Taking two games in Ottawa would have given the Bruins a death grip on the series. Instead, by cosplaying as Jon’s mom and blowing a 3-1 lead like it was the first AIDS-negative guy in line at the soup kitchen they’ve given the Senators second life. The Bruins outplayed the Senators badly in game two; walking away without the W is disheartening.
On paper, the Bruins still are in the driver’s seat, but a loss at home completely shifts the balance of the series. Teams with a 2-1 series lead have a 70% chance of winning the series all-time. It’s not impossible to come back, but this team needs to keep things simple. Win the game.