For weeks, or in some cases years, this is the opportunity a number of Boston Bruins defensemen have been waiting for.
With injuries piling up on the back end, Urho Vaakanainen is up from the AHL and getting a chance to play on the top pairing with Charlie McAvoy. Jakub Zboril, who has become a lineup mainstay when healthy, has been with Brandon Carlo the last few games. Routinely scratched defensemen John Moore and Connor Clifton have been playing far more lately.
But the end result has been two brutal performances, with the Bruins getting pounded in both games of a back-to-back. After falling 7-2 to the New York Islanders on Thursday, they lost 6-2 Friday against the Rangers.
A lot of guys are getting put in roles bigger than they’re used to. But Bruce Cassidy isn’t allowing that to fly as an excuse.
?I don’t think (the ask is) too big — they’re NHL players or they’ve been in the American League. I mean, this is the opportunity they want, right?
“I mean, Vaak has been down there, Zboril?s been down there. Cliffy has been on the sidelines. Johnny Moore has been itching to get in — so, here it is, like, grab it.”
Cassidy did concede a few things. Among them that the messaging from the coaching staff has to be better, the forwards need to help more on offense and getting a timely save here or there is necessary. In other words, it’s not all on the defense.
But at this point, that obviously is the most glaring issue.
The Bruins do have Steven Kampfer on the road trip with them, so perhaps we could see his season debut Sunday when the Bruins face the Rangers once more. Boston also went out and claimed defenseman Jarred Tinordi off waivers, too.