Bruins Maintain Excellence Without Top Defensemen

The Boston Bruins rang in Halloween byL delivering a scare to their fanbase: they would be without their top defensive pair of Matt Grzelcyk (he/him) and Charlie McAvoy (he/him) for roughly two weeks. Both played their last game on October 30th against the Florida Panthers before exiting early; Grzelcyk due to a lower-body injury, and McAvoy due to a hit to the head that would earn him a 4-game suspension.

During their absences, the Bruins have given ice time to various different defensemen in their prospect system, with the most notable being Mason Lohrei (he/him). Lohrei would pair mostly with Brandon Carlo, and, although subject to lapses on defense, his offensive play made him worthwhile on the ice. Lohrei, alongside forward Johnny Beecher (he/him), would score his first NHL goal on November 6 against the Dallas Stars, making the duo the first instance of two Bruins players scoring their first NHL goals in the same game since 2017, with Jake DeBrusk (he/him) and, ironically, McAvoy.

The Bruins also called up defensemen Ian Mitchell (he/him), who was a part of the Taylor Hall trade to the Blackhawks, and Parker Wotherspoon (he/him) after Grzelcyk and McAvoy both were ruled out. Wotherspoon played in three games where he registered an assist. As soon as McAvoy’s suspension was over, the Bruins sent down Wotherspoon back to Providence.

Over the four games without either McAvoy or Grzelcyk, the Bruins have amassed a record of 3-1-0. Various lapses in defensive structure against the Detroit Red Wings on November 4 led the squad to their first regulation loss of the season, but rebounded well against the Dallas Stars two games later. Though McAvoy has since come back, starting on November 11th against the Montreal Canadiens, Grzelcyk has been moved to Long-Term Injured Reserve, preventing him from playing until, at the very earliest, November 25th against the New York Rangers. Overall, the Bruins have remained strong in the face of their first test of adversity of the season in terms of depth, but there still remain questions about the long-term performance of the team.

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