The Boston Bruins are atop the East Division and amongst the best teams in the NHL as the quarter mark of this 56-game shortened season has arrived. One of the main reasons for the Bruins’ early success has been the faster than expected emergence of their youth on the blue line but it appears the depth on defense is about to be tested.
Boston Bruins defensemen Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril, and Kevan Miller were all absent from Bruins practice Monday at Warrior Arena. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that Kevan Miller was just maintenance and then gave an update on his other two injured rearguards.
“Gryzz had an MRI yesterday. …obviously not on the ice today,” Cassidy told reporters Monday afternoon. “Zboril’s upper body, left the other day, not on the ice today and I don’t anticipate either one will be on the ice with us tomorrow. My guess is they will be tough to get in the lineup if they’re not getting on the ice by Wednesday, to play on Thursday, and then obviously I can give you the update on whether they’re going to Tahoe by then.
So that’s sort of where we’re at with those guys. As I said, Kevan Miller was maintenance. He will be back with the group tomorrow, is my understanding.”
Two weeks ago, it was reported here in ‘Off The Record’ that the Boston Bruins were in on St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn who is once again on the NHL trade market. There were plenty of responses asking why the Bruins would need another defenseman given how well their blue line was playing?
Well, as the late hall of fame puck scribe Russ Conway always said: ‘You can never have enough defensemen!’
The Boston Bruins are not at that point just yet, where they will need to reach down to the AHL and call up a Providence Bruins defenseman, but following practice Monday, head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t rule that scenario out before the Bruins take off for Lake Tahoe to face the Philadelphia Flyers in an outdoor game on Sunday afternoon.
“Well, Kevan Miller will join us tomorrow and Steven Kampfer was there today, making six healthy, Kevan will make seven,” Cassidy pointed out. “So seven is enough. I wouldn’t want to go through six every day so that’s something we would’ve talked about if not but it sounds like Kevan will be back from our medical staff. Everyone else should be good to go tomorrow so that will give us seven and then as I said earlier, ‘Gryzz and Zboril, doubtful to join us [Tuesday] and I’ll try to give you an update Wednesday or as soon as I get one on those guys.
So right now, no we would not go to Providence. Obviously, one more injury and we need someone then ‘Vaak’ [Urho Vaakanainen] was the guy that had the best camp here so I would think off the top of my head he would be the guy that we look at but I’d have to call there and see how everyone is playing.”
Of course, the alternative to Providence and also helping to prevent this situation going forward is for Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney to make a trade for another Top 4 left-shot defenseman like Vince Dunn or grab a depth d-man off the waiver wire. The Bruins’ blue line situation was a focus heading into this season and it appears it will be going forward.