The Boston Bruins couldn’t afford to lose their only experience left-shot defensemen, but it appears that might be exactly what’s happening.
Bruins D-man Matt Grzelcyk was forced out of Monday night’s 1-0 loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum after getting tangled up with Jordan Eberle in an awkward third period play. Both Grzelcyk and Eberle were whistled for matching penalties on a play where they battled for the puck in the neutral zone, and it appeared that Eberle caught Grzelcyk in a bit of a slewfoot as both players tumbled to the ice.
Matt Grzelcyk heads to the room after getting tied up with Jordan Eberle. Not good. pic.twitter.com/2ljVDgJONJ
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 19, 2021
Grzelcyk immediately crumpled in pain and was gingerly holding his right arm as he exited the ice and headed to the Boston Bruins dressing room. Bruce Cassidy said there wasn’t much of an update following the game because it happened late in the proceedings, but it looked like it might have been a wrenched shoulder.
“I haven’t talked to the trainers,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I basically walked down the hall and looked at the [game-winning] goal…so nothing yet.”
It was a shame the injury happened when it did given that youngsters Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril are currently the other two left-side defensemen, and Urho Vaakanainen is expected to be the replacement for Grzelcyk if he can’t play. The young kids on defense are playing well right now, but that’s a lot to ask. That would essentially leave the Bruins with three rookies on the left side of the defense when they had Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Grzelcyk as the left side of their defense just last year.
Grzelcyk was having arguably his best game of the season for the Bruins on Monday with two shot attempts and a blocked shot in 13:35 of clean ice time where he was moving pucks and playing solid, economical hockey. Any long-term Grzelcyk injury would leave the Bruins super young on defense while the offense is already struggling to generate 5-on-5 offense, and it would leave the Boston Bruins without their top power play unit quarterback as well.
It was part of the Boston Bruins gamble when they opted to have the 5-foor-9, 175-pound Grzelcyk remain as the lone veteran guy on the left side, hoping he was going to be able to handle a top-4 workload and 20 minutes of ice time per game and remain healthy despite the increased physical pounding. The Boston Bruins clearly hope this Grzelcyk injury is a close call or a big scare rather than a long-term issue, but it also unearths the clear reality that they are one Grzelcyk injury away from having serious depth issues on the left side of their defense.