How Bruins’ Matt Grzelcyk Feels About Positional Shift Vs. Oilers

Grzelcyk will have to quickly adjust


Mar 9, 2023

Ever since acquiring Dmitry Orlov prior to the trade deadline, Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery has played musical chairs with the defensive pairings.

It’s led to different combinations and players lining up on their less dominant side, which Matt Grzelcyk will do Thursday night when the Bruins host the Edmonton Oilers at 7:30 p.m. ET from TD Garden.

The left-shot defenseman will play on the right side on Boston’s third pairing alongside Derek Forbort, and Grzelcyk will have to quickly adjust to the positional shift, especially against an Oilers offense that leads the NHL in goals per game.

“I’ve played it before, so I think I know kind of what can get you in trouble,” Grzelcyk told reporters after morning skate, per team-provided video. “I think sometimes the neutral zone can be tough. You’re on your off side, you kind of feel like if you get a D-to-D pass, it’s tough to go right up. But like I said, I’ve had experience there before playing, so I’m just trying to get used to it and see what happens.”

Playing on his opposite side isn’t the only thing Grzelcyk will have to adapt to, as skating on the same pairing with Forbort is a foreign concept to the 29-year-old.

“I’ve never played with him, but I know his game, obviously, from the last year and a half just getting to watch him,” Grzelcyk said. “Try to command the puck a little bit and move pucks in first touch. Like I said, it’s a little bit tougher just seeing the ice on your off side. But I’ve had a few games in the past, so I rely on those past experiences, and I know he’s an unbelievable defender and he’s really good at closing plays off the rush.”

With Orlov not only entering the mix, but playing exceptionally well since joining the Bruins, it has forced Montgomery to make a regular defenseman a healthy scratch for each game. Connor Clifton, Brandon Carlo, Forbort and Grzelcyk, who didn’t suit up in Boston’s last game against the New York Rangers, have taken their turns sitting out. Clifton is the odd-man out against the Oilers.

It’s a difficult situation, but a luxury all in the same.

“I think it’s a little unlikely that we’ve kind of remained healthy for pretty much the whole year,” Grzelcyk said. “When you come out of the lineup, you want to make sure you take care of your body and using that time properly, getting the rest that you need and making sure that when you come back you have a little bit more jump.

“I think we all realize the reality of the situation. We have a ton of good players, obviously, and someone’s going to come out of the lineup eventually. So just making sure that when you’re in there, you’re making the most of it.”

Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images
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