The Boston Bruins had to use their ninth defenseman Saturday for Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.
Joe Morrow made his playoff debut because Colin Miller wasn’t able to play with the lower body injury he suffered in Game 1 on Wednesday. Miller joined Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo as B’s blueliners on the shelf. Neither Krug nor Carlo has played in this series, and there’s no guarantee either of them will suit up for Monday’s Game 3 in Boston.
The Bruins’ lack of defensive depth worsened in Game 2 when Adam McQuaid left in the first period with an upper body injury and didn’t return. The B’s had just five defensemen for the rest of the game as a result, and they ultimately lost 4-3 in overtime as Ottawa evened the series.
There are a few reasons why the Bruins need someone to return quickly.
One is that Zdeno Chara played a season-high 30:09 in the Game 2 loss. That used to be standard postseason procedure for the B’s captain, but he’s now 40 years old, and playing him more than 30 minutes is far from ideal.
Another reason is young defensemen are playing more than they should and in late-game situations they’re not ready for. McAvoy has performed quite well in his first two NHL games, but he’s still just 19 years old. Morrow hadn’t played at the NHL level since Jan. 22, and yet he had to log nearly 20 minutes in a playoff game Saturday.
Kevan Miller also played more than nine minutes above his season average.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has bailed out his team with several excellent saves over the first two games, particularly in Game 1 when the Senators could’ve led 2-0 or 3-0 after the opening period. But it’s going to be tough for the Bruins to limit shots on goal and scoring chances if they have to play too many young defensemen deep into this series.
Health on the blue line is sorely needed because inserting another inexperienced D-man into the lineup from Providence could be too much for Boston to overcome.
Here are some other notes from Bruins vs. Senators Game 2.
— McAvoy’s positional awareness was outstanding in Game 2. He cut off angles and prevented players from retrieving dump-ins by being in the right spot to make a play and move the puck out of the defensive zone. McAvoy’s excellent skating ability comes in handy when he has to maneuver out of trouble in his own zone.
The 2016 first-round draft pick received 27:47 of ice time. Only B’s captain Zdeno Chara played more.
Speaking of Chara, the Bruins dominated puck possession when he was paired with McAvoy. This pairing was a plus-8 in shot attempts in 17:01 of even-strength ice time, so it would be wise of Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy to ride this duo a lot in Game 3.
McAvoy did make a few mistakes, and he partially screened Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask on Ottawa’s second goal, but overall it was a solid second career NHL game for the young defenseman.
— David Krejci missed Game 2 with a lower body injury and has yet to play in this series. This has forced Ryan Spooner to play as the second-line center between Drew Stafford and David Backes. Spooner has one assist in two games, which came on the power play Saturday.
Spooner has tallied zero points and zero shots on goal at 5-on-5, and the B’s are driving below 50 percent puck possession when he’s on the ice. The Bruins need much better offensive production from Spooner at even strength while Krejci is sidelined.
— David Pastrnak picked up an assist on Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal in the second period, giving the 20-year-old right winger assists in both games of this series. Bergeron also has points in back-to-back games.
— Tim Schaller scored his first career playoff goal in the second period after Senators goalie Craig Anderson made a major mistake trying to play the puck. It was Boston’s first shorthanded goal in a playoff game since Daniel Paille scored one in Game 3 of the first round in 2013 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
— The Senators don’t have too many memorable playoff comebacks, but Game 2 certainly qualifies as one.
Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf became the 15th player in team history to score an overtime goal in the playoffs. Ottawa also has won seven of its last 10 overtime playoff games.
Thumbnail photo via Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports Images