Getting healthy scratched, especially with regularity, isn’t something that pleases many NHL players.
And while it’s probably safe to say John Moore wishes he could be providing more on the ice, it hasn’t stopped him from playing a big role for the Boston Bruins off it.
The depth defenseman has played in just one game since arriving in the Toronto bubble, and it was the exhibition against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
With five of the Bruins’ lineup spots on the blue line all but set in stone, Moore, Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon have been fighting for the sixth and final spot since even before the NHL’s pause back in March.
Lauzon grabbed ahold of the job during restart training camp and into the start of games, but Clifton got inserted into the lineup for Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes to provide some energy, and he has held onto the spot since.
So that leaves Moore — who is in the second season of a five-year deal — as an odd man out still. Despite that, and the competition he’s in for a lineup spot, he’s continued to model professionalism.
Prior to Wednesday’s Bruins game against the Hurricanes, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was asked about how Clifton took hold of a lineup spot. Cassidy used it as an opportunity to weave in some praise for Moore.
“Probably one of the ultimate professionals in his preparation, ready to play,” Cassidy said of Moore on Wednesday over a Zoom call. “A veteran guy in this league, no maintenance, just digs in every day and I think when he does that, it’s pretty easy for the Clifton’s and the Lauzon’s when they’re not in the lineup to follow suit. Especially with his resume. It helps to have those guys on board, tremendously. Sort of keep the culture going, and keep the depth part of your lineup ready to play.
“But good for Connor,” Cassidy then added. “He just wants his opportunity like everyone else. He’s been there too, don’t forget. He was there last year in some really big games and contributed. He has a bit of a feel for what it’s all about. That’s the other part about being ready. There’s no anxiety about what to expect. He knew what to expect and he delivered.”
Clifton is expected to be in the lineup for Game 5 of Bruins-Hurricanes on Wednesday. Should the Bruins advance and run into a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning, a heavier player like Lauzon might have the edge for that final spot.