|Injuries mean jobs: Bruins’ young defensemen should seize moment like those before them||11.20.14 at 3:14 pm ET|
Peter Chiarelli will probably never say how many NHL defensemen he thinks he has again.
Since saying that he felt he had nine this offseason, the number has been tested significantly. After trading one of them in Johnny Boychuk, Chiarelli has seen five of his defensemen get hurt in the first 20 games of the season. Of the nine NHL-caliber defensemen Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins possessed, the only three who haven’t suffered an injury this season have been Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.
That is rough, rough stuff for the Bruins, but it does allow that list of NHL defensemen to get longer. Games played as injury replacements have been the avenue to the NHL for many of Boston’s young defensemen, with Hamilton really the only one who was actually given a job to begin his NHL career.
Adam McQuaid filled in for an injured Mark Stuart and took his job in 2011. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski earned their sweaters in the 2013 postseason. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman got their feet wet a season ago with injuries to various blueliners, while Joe Morrow initially came up to replace the struggling Bartkowski this season but will remain in the lineup in part because of Boston’s ailing back end.
Krug thinks that’s a respectable way to become an NHL player. He feels jumping in to replace a hurt player leaves less room for thinking, which is a good way to avoid mistakes for a young player.
“It doesn’t leave you time to think about what could happen or what could go wrong, because you’re the only option,” he said. “They’re putting you in the game and you’ve just got to go out and do your thing. All the guys that have gone out and done so so far have taken the right mindset.
“That’s the only reason I’m here right now, is because there was an opportunity with a couple guys hurt in the playoffs, and I [made] the best of it. I think these guys are doing a good job of taking these opportunities and running with it. It’s fun when you earn things like that.”
McQuaid had gotten off to a very encouraging start to this season coming off an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign that saw him dress in only 30 games. With a broken thumb putting his season on hold for 6-8 weeks, the Bruins have to go back to their group of young defensemen for bigger and tougher minutes.
That won’t be easy, but given the job that Miller did replacing him last season and the play they’ve gotten from other young blueliners, the Bruins are confident they can handle the loss.
“Is it a silver lining? It is in a way because we really felt we had some good depth on the back end,” Claude Julien said. “I think it’s showing now. Whoever we bring up seems to be doing a decent job. A lot of guys that are here now are going to make it difficult for us when it’s all said and done. There’s a pretty good competition going again on our back end.”
Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has proven to be a better NHL player than he was an AHL player. Trotman, meanwhile, was replaced by Bartkowski on Saturday and eventually sent to Providence, but now he’s back with the NHL club. Neither player was on Chiarelli’s unofficial list of nine this summer, but they can add their names to it with strong performances.
Given their injuries, the Bruins’ list of NHL-caliber defensemen isn’t anything like what it was in the offseason, but as players return to the lineup, the B’s could eventually find themselves at a point where they have more guys capable of handling NHL minutes than they did immediately after trading Boychuk.
“I think that number’s grown,” Krug said. “You’re witnessing Joe come in and do a great job, and Trots is getting the experience and he’s doing well. I think that number’s getting higher and higher. Hopefully at some point, we have that many guys that the coaching staff has to make a decision who to play.”
|Switch to Joe Morrow a big reason why Bruins have survived without Zdeno Chara||11.11.14 at 1:07 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are now 6-1-0 without Zdeno Chara. They’re also 5-0-0 with Joe Morrow in the lineup instead of Matt Bartkowski.
The latter point isn’t a shot at Bartkowski, a good player whose struggles with his game and his confidence led him to the press box for the time being, but it does tell part of the story as to why the Bruins have improved defensively over the course of this stretch without their best defenseman.
Paired with Adam McQuaid, Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has been safe. For a team that had been looking up to tighten up defensively, that’s all the B’s could have wanted. Like Bartkowski, Morrow is a good skater and passer, but Bartkowski’s decision-making and defensive coverage were uncharacteristically poor in his five games this season. The Bruins called up Morrow after the team’s Oct. 28 loss to the Wild to replace Bartkowski.
Decision-making was one of the questions attached to Morrow when the Bruins got him from the Stars as part of the Tyler Seguin trade. Peter Chiarelli said the day of the trade that the B’s would be patient with the twice-traded player and give him the proper AHL instruction. That potential red flag that has been mentioned at points of his two-year-plus AHL career has yet to pop up.
“I don’t know exactly what that means, but when you when you have the company of these players around you and that’s what you’re playing with, you kind of raise your game match theirs and to contribute,” Morrow said. “You don’t want to let anyone in the dressing room down. You know it’s really important to win up here, so you give that little extra effort.
“Yeah, I think I have a more suitable style to the National Hockey League than I do to the American Hockey League, but I guess time will tell if that’s really true.”
His coaches and former coaches aren’t the only ones who have been satisfied with what Morrow’s brought to the table. Tuukka Rask said that Morrow has brought some defensive stability to the B’s.
“I think he’s been playing really good and improving every game,” Rask said of Morrow. “Especially the past couple of games, I’ve really liked the way he’s played and played defense and carried the puck up the ice.”
Rask pointed to a third-period play Monday against the Devils in which Morrow’s positioning allowed him to break up a potential back-door scoring opportunity and skate the puck to safety.
“Things like that that people might not see,” Rask said, “I see and try to give them credit for it.”
All in all, Rask likes the way the team has looked defensively of late.
“Really good. Really good,” Rask said of the Bruins’ play in their own zone. “We’re eliminating chances we kind of want to eliminate and making little plays around the net and taking their sticks away and stuff. It’s paid off lately. I feel like we’re really taking steps in the right direction.”
Bartkowski is a better player than he’s shown and he will be better if and when he gets more games. His absence, however, has allowed the Bruins to get a look at another young defender and enjoy stronger defensive efforts.
|Bruins send Joe Morrow to Providence||10.26.14 at 11:27 am ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have reassigned defenseman Joe Morrow to Providence of the AHL.
Morrow, a first-round pick of the Penguins in 2011 who came to the Bruins from the Stars in the Tyler Seguin trade, had been recalled Saturday along with Zach Trotman. Morrow served as the seventh defenseman, sitting Saturday against the Maple Leafs, while Trotman played on the third pairing alongside Matt Bartkowski.
In five games for Providence this season, Morrow has a goal and an assist for two points and a plus-4 rating.
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|Bruins announce rookie camp roster||08.30.13 at 1:34 pm ET|
The Bruins announced their roster for rookie camp, which is set to begin next Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena. It is as follows:
FORWARDS: Anthony Camara, Mitchell Dempsey, Campbell Elynuik, Alex Fallstrom, Justin Florek, Seth Griffith, Jayden Hart, Alexander Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, Matthew Lindblad, Wayne Simpson, Ryan Spooner, Maxime Villemaire
DEFENSEMEN: Mickael Beauregard, Chris Casto, Alex Cord, Tommy Cross, Jesse Lees, Steven Spinell, Zach Trotman
GOALTENDERS: Adam Morrison, Malcolm Subban
Morrow, 20, figures to spend at least a year or two in the AHL before he figures to contend for a full-time job in Boston. Here’s what Peter Chiarelli said about him the day they acquired him:
“Still a young player, very strong skater, finding his way, but we have a lot of time for him and we think he can develop into a top four NHL defenseman with the right development.”
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