The Boston Bruins are in a tough spot right now when it comes to their defensive group. Torey Krug (upper-body) is currently on IR and will at least miss Tuesday’s game against the Devils. Charlie McAvoy (upper-body) is also likely to miss that New Year’s Eve battle. The Bruins also lost Connor Clifton on Sunday night in their victory against the Buffalo Sabres to an upper-body injury.
With three regular defensemen out of the lineup, the Bruins have had to turn to AHL Providence for help. Luckily for the Bruins, veteran Steven Kampfer was there. Kampfer collected an assist on Sunday night and played 19:26 in the Bruins victory.
“I think because he’s been in the league, we know he can play,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters postgame Sunday.
The Bruins will need him to play for this next stretch while they sort through the injury problems on the back-end. Luckily for them, this is a spot that Kampfer thrives in. It’s not an easy one either.
“He’s learned how to do that over the years: not play for long stretches and stay sharp,” Cassidy continued. “You’ve got to give him credit for that. Now, he was in Providence, so he was playing, but he did it last year without playing in long stretches, and that’s a sign of a good pro, and that’s unfortunately his job description right now, and he’s handled it well.”
Kampfer has played just 12 games this season, six each in the NHL and AHL including Sunday.
The injuries are tough for players to handle, but also a task for the coach. Not only is Cassidy down three key players, he also has to figure out where exactly Kampfer fits in the puzzle.
“I think we know his strengths and his weaknesses, so we try to minimize the weakness situation, put him in spots where – like, he can play on the power play,” Cassidy said.
“He’s got a good shot, he sees the ice, so we try to ensure that when he’s here in for someone, especially with a [Charlie] McAvoy out, that he gets those opportunities.”
Kampfer got that opportunity on Sunday, and his powerplay assist on Jake DeBrusk’s first goal proved big in a key win for the club.