Untimely injuries to David Krejci and Kevan Miller hinder Bruins.
|Krejci will miss significant time with a lower-body injury, while Miller is done for the season due to shoulder surgery. Via Pioneer Press: John Autey|
We all know how big of a loss Krejci is to this team. As the anchoring center on the Bruins' top line, the Bruins are simply a different team whenever Krejci is unable to suit up. The chemistry he and Lucic have built over the years is insurmountable. Hopefully the newly addition of Max Talbot can fill in some of the void while Krejci regains his health, as newly acquired forward Brett Connolly is already set to miss six weeks with a hand injury.
The Bruins have been down this road twice already with Krejci this season, as he missed the first few games of the season with a wrist injury. Krejci played in only two games in the month of November after returning from the wrist injury before he again missed an entire month of the season with a hip injury. Krejci returned to the lineup on December 17th against Minnesota and played in all of the Bruins' 27 games until suffering a knee injury in St. Louis during the Bruins' 5-1 loss to the Blues on February 20th.
Miller's injury hurts as well, as he has taken up the role as the most physical player of the Bruins' defensive core. If you want to get by a team like Montreal or Tampa in the first round, you need physical defensemen. The Bruins failed to acquire any defensemen at the trade deadline, so it looks like Matt Bartkowski will be the Bruins' sixth defenseman for this playoff push.
All season long, inconsistent play and the struggle to stay healthy has plagued the Bruins in all three aspects of the game: offense, defense, and goaltending.
The core of the Bruins' forwards such as Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, and David Krejci have all missed time throughout the season due to injury or suspension. The depletion of the Bruins forwards this season has caused the Bruins' offensive production to decrease immensely, as their goal ratio is only a +4 at the moment, compared to a +84 on March 4th, 2014 (via nhl.com).
Chara's knee injury immediately following the Boychuk trade was a killer to the defensive core, and the McQuaid, Miller, Hamilton, and Krug injuries which followed left the Bruins' defensive core in the hands of Dennis Seidenberg, Matt Bartkowski, and Providence call-ups for the majority of October and November.
Inconsistency from backup goalie Niklas Svedberg throughout the season and Malcom Subban's disastrous appearance in St. Louis where he gave up three goals on three shots have caused the entire work load in net to fall into the hands of Tuukka Rask, causing Rask to get almost no rest. The Bruins need to get Rask some days off if they want him to carry this team into the postseason and through the early playoff rounds.
If the Bruins want to do anything this spring, they are going to need to get Krejci back for at least the final week of the season and for the first round of the playoffs (hopefully not against Montreal). Matt Bartkowski needs to step up and play a major role for the Bruins' defensive core with Miller out, as he finally will have his shot at being a full time defenseman for the Bruins with this final playoff push.
It helps that Tuukka Rask will be getting four days of rest before the Bruins play three games in four days against Calgary, Detroit, and Philadelphia this weekend (all three of those teams battling for a playoff spot). But it is impossible to think that Tuukka can play three games in four days and still be himself. The Bruins may need to give Svedberg a shot if they want to have a healthy Tuukka for two games this weekend as well as for the final games leading up to the postseason.
By Mike Flanagan
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