The Boston Bruins very clearly need a defensemen upgrade at Monday’s NHL trade deadline if for no other reason than to offset the injuries that continue to waylay them. Brandon Carlo (upper body), Kevan Miller (load management), Charlie McAvoy (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) are all out for Sunday night’s home game against the Washington Capitals leaving the B’s with a bit of a rag tag group on the back end.
John Moore has also been lost with season-ending injury after attempting to gut it out as an extra D-man this season.
The hope is that at the very least McAvoy (upper body) and Miller (load management on his knee) will both return for Tuesday night’s home date against the Buffalo Sabres. And perhaps they will have at least one or two healthy bodies added at Monday’s trade deadline with the Bruins reportedly interested in Detroit Red Wings D-man Jon Merrill among other players.
But for Sunday night it’s going to be an emergency situation with rookies Jeremy Lauzon and Jack Ahcan comprising their top pairing, and spare defenseman Steve Kampfer and waiver pickup Jarred Tinordi also playing key roles as well. The Bruins typically take a “next man up” mentality when injuries come in waves, but this kind of defensemen group against an explosive Capitals group could spell plenty of trouble on Sunday.
There will be plenty asked of the 23-year-old Ahcan, who will be making his second NHL appearance after posting one goal and eight points in 14 games for the Providence Bruins this year in his first pro season.
“It looks good,” said Bruce Cassidy of his overall blue line picture while talking about Ahcan getting his second NHL game under his belt on Sunday. “I thought he played to his strengths. He was involved in the play offensively and had some looks but was a couple of times too. So, it’s ‘manage your risk-taking.’ We want you to be a guy that gets up in the play, supports the rush and makes plays when they’re there. There are better sticks defensively at this level, so that was the other message.”
The group of six defensemen has a combined 500 games of NHL experience, which works out to an average of just 83 games of NHL experience per defensemen for Sunday night’s patchwork group. Rookie netminder Daniel Vladar will be manning the pipes for the Bruins after fellow rookie Jeremy Swayman started the last three consecutive games for the Black and Gold.
Here’s the overall Boston Bruins lineup against the Washington Capitals with the B’s opting to skip morning skate altogether on Sunday following a Saturday afternoon matinee in Philadelphia: