Boston Bruins: Lack of defensive depth was the achilles heal
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JUNE 09: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins pauses following a New York Islanders empty net goal during a 6-2 loss in Game Six of the Second Round of the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Nassau Coliseum on June 09, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
When Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug left in free agency last offseason, there was an immediate question mark when it came to the Boston Bruins‘ depth on the blue line. Now fresh off a devastating Game 6 loss to the New York Islanders, it became apparent that the back end was the weakest link for this Bruins team. Don Sweeney gave the kids a chance and brought in some veteran additions later in the year, but it wasn’t enough.
At the start of playoffs the starting six were pretty solid, but as the likes of Kevan Miller and Brandon Carlo got knocked out due to injury – things got ugly quick. When guys like Jeremy Lauzon, Jarred Tinordi, and Connor Clifton get thrown into the lineup cold – it is hard to count on them for many contributions.
As the series went on, it was noticeable that even the top guys were getting worn down. Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, and Mike Reilly were playing monster minutes, to begin with and as injuries built up they were leaned on even heavier.
In Game 6, the New York Islanders focus’ on targeting Charlie McAvoy was ever apparent and he was visibly banged up. Matt Grzelcyk had a nightmare game, coughing the puck up on two different occasions leading to Islander goals. Even Mike Reilly wasn’t his usual energetic puck-moving self.
This offseason should be an interesting one for the Boston Bruins as General Manager Don Sweeney weighs his options when it comes to key veteran free agents and whether this team should get younger. No matter what happens, the blue line should be a big focus for management to find help for young studs Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Whether it is internal additions with prospects Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Ahcan or looking into the free agency or trade markets.