BOSTON — This time a year ago, few would blink if Matt Grzelcyk found himself out of the Boston Bruins’ lineup.
But things have changed for the Boston University product.
Grzelcyk has been one of Boston’s most reliable blueliners this season, and his 50 games played leads all defensemen on the team. But Gryzelcyk, who’s been gutting through a lower-body injury suffered last month against the New York Rangers, will finally get a breather Saturday afternoon when the Bruins play the Los Angeles Kings at TD Garden.
And while the injury isn’t considered serious, fans shouldn’t expect to see Grzelcyk on the ice Sunday when the Bruins host the Colorado Avalanche in the second half of a back-to-back.
“I would suspect missing two, maybe three days on the ice,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said Saturday morning. “I think tomorrow would be tough. He is the type of player that doesn’t need a ton of reps, he’s quick and can jump right in there. So I wouldn’t rule him out, but it’s not ideal.
” … It was in New York, he played through it. Wasn’t major, something more that was nagging. … If we didn’t have anybody else, could he play? Possibly. So it’s not like it’s anything structural, just sort of a pulled muscle, and wanna let it calm down. ”
One could argue that Grzelcyk, rather than more heralded talents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, has made the greatest strides this season of any Bruins defensemen. And while the Charlestown, Mass., native isn’t likely to wow anyone with electrifying play, it’s his consistency in all areas that’s allowed him to become a fixture on Boston’s blue line.
“(Consistency) is what’s kept him, for the most part, in the lineup and ahead of a lot of guys,” Cassidy said. “We’ve sat him here and there, this year especially. We’ve had John Moore in there a couple times, but it’s what we like about him as a player.
“We trust him in any situation, he’s even starting to work a little more on the kill. He’s being more aggressive, he’s good with clears. Doesn’t have the longest stick in the world … Completely different animal than (Zdeno Chara), but he gives us another element. We can be a little quicker as a group, a little more pressure-oriented. … We know he’s gonna make the right first pass every night, very rarely does he lose that part of his game. Smart defender.”
Moore, a healthy scratch in Boston’s last three games, will fill Grzelcyk’s place in the lineup Saturday afternoon.
Grzelcyk has one goal, 13 assists and is a plus-eight player in 50 games played this season.