The depth of the Boston Bruins’ blue line is going to be once again tested, as another name has been added to the long list of the injury report. Captain Zdeno Chara missed the last two periods of the Bruins’ 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche with a leg injury.
Now he is set to miss the rest of the Bruins’ four-game road trip as he will be reevaluated back in Boston.
The loss is huge, as the Bruins have already been decimated with injuries on the back end. Of the six defensemen to dress opening night, Chara is now the fourth to be out with an injury, as just John Moore and Matt Grzelcyk remain. Urho Vaakanainen also joined them to make five regulars out with injuries currently, just on defense.
Boston signed Moore to add to a position of strength, creating competition and depth, something that can only help a team with high expectations.
Now as they turn their eyes to the Dallas Stars (9-7-2, 20 points), in the second of their four-game road trip, the Bruins will turn to a very young and inexperienced blue line that will include the likely debut of former first-round pick Jakub Zboril.
Drafted in the same class as Jeremy Lauzon, who also made his NHL debut this year, and Brandon Carlo, Zboril was the first of three straight Bruins’ first-round picks (Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn), who will likely be the man that gets the call against the Stars.
Zboril takes 'longer road'
After a three-year career with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) that saw Zboril team up with Thomas Chabot, Zboril spent all of last season with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League (AHL), registering 19 points in 68 games.
At the time of his call-up, Zboril had registered four points, two goals, in 13 games played. Known for his size, smooth-skating and booming shot from the point, even though it will be his first taste of NHL regular season action, Zboril has the toolset to contribute given the right situation.
Bruins’ youth movement on the blue line
When a team goes with a younger lineup, especially defensively, it is usually a choice. In a perfect world, Lauzon hasn’t played in any games yet, and Zboril isn’t getting a chance to play in his debut on Friday.
Injuries are part of the game, however, and the Bruins depth is being put to an ultimate test. Between the six defensemen who are likely to dress against the Stars, they have played a collective 1,132 games - with Moore leading the way with 465. On the other side of the spectrum, Chara has played in 309 MORE games than that group on his own, as when he returns his next contest will be number 1,442 on his career.
Only Steven Kampfer is at least 30-years-old of the group expected to play Friday, and he has under 200 games to his credit. Grzelcyk is proving himself an offensive playmaker, but he still hasn’t reached the century mark in games played.
Boston currently owns a losing record on the road (3-4-2), and having two players with less than ten games total in the NHL in the lineup at the same time isn’t going to help turn things around.
Then again, Zboril fits into the Bruins’ puck possession style of play, and there is a reason that he was Don Sweeney’s first pick as GM.
What is going to be realistic expectations for the Bruins, and Zboril, with him in the lineup? With so many injuries, are they going to be able to protect him properly to get his feet wet? Or will injuries force him into the fire early on? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!