John Moore has not played regularly in quite literally months, so you could forgive him if, after 16 days between game action, he was a little rusty Saturday night.
But the third-pairing defenseman looked good at Enterprise Center as the Boston Bruins pounded the St. Louis Blues 7-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Moore hadn’t played since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, but the concussion Matt Grzelcyk sustained Wednesday resulted in Moore, another left shot, slotting in alongside Connor Clifton. Though Moore’s 13:09 ice time was lowest among the team’s defensemen, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t afraid to use him in important spots.
The penalty kill was among those big spots, where Moore’s 3:52 ice time was second only to Brandon Carlo. Part of the reason for the high usage in shorthanded situations was due to a St. Louis 4-on-3 that was the result of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy, two important penalty killers, serving infractions at the same time.
“Yeah he was good,” Cassidy said of Moore to Jack Edwards after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “He gives us everything he’s got, hardworking guy, good character. Feel bad for Grizz, but in some way, shape or form we feel we won this one for him tonight. He’s a big part of our team, we miss him, but John stepped up and did a good job.”
There’s never been an issue with Moore himself, necessarily, rather numbers have kept him out of the lineup (it’s tough to healthy scratch the other left shots in Chara, Torey Krug and Grzelcyk). He’s a great skater and can track pucks well, so, all things considered, it shouldn’t exactly be a surprise that he was fine Saturday night.
But head injuries are tough (and dangerous) to come back from quickly, so it’s anyone’s guess as to when Grzelcyk, who didn’t travel with the team to St. Louis, will be able to return to action. If he’s unable to return at some point this series it obviously will remain a big loss for the Bruins, as Grzelcyk quarterbacks the second power play unit and is the team’s best defenseman at defensive zone breakouts.
That said, Moore showed Saturday night that he’ll be able to fill the void well enough to the point that Boston’s third defensive pairing will be more than adequate.