By: Patrick Donnelly
Charlie McAvoy has been in the NHL’s concussion protocol since Oct. 18, the same day Kevan Miller went down with a broken hand. Urho Vaakanainen has been in concussion protocol since Oct. 23, and now Brandon Carlo has joined the list with an upper-body injury this week.
The Bruins have faired well through this stretch of injuries to two important cogs of their defense group in McAvoy and Miller, going 6-3-1 in the ten games without them.
It is not exactly an opportune time to now lose Carlo, especially as the team faces stiff competition in the next few games with Colorado on the slate for Wednesday night followed by a game in Dallas. Wednesday night will see the Bruins face one of the only lines in the game that can rival their trio of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak.
The Avs’ first line of Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen have combined for a ridiculous 69 points through 17 games, while the Bruins top line has 68 combined points in the same span.
Currently, the Bruins defensive corps that is healthy is made up of Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Matt Grzlecyk, John Moore, Jeremy Lauzon, Steven Kampfer, and Jakub Zboril as the seventh man. With that lineup, everyone will need to be at their absolute best, especially against a dangerous Colorado lineup and a Dallas team that boasts Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov.
Krug being back in the fold has certainly helped, especially offensively, while Lauzon has stepped up and performed admirably during his emergency recall. Zboril was just called up on Monday and is yet to see NHL game action, but has performed well to start this year in Providence as one of the Bruins’ top defensive prospects with two goals and two assists in 13 games.
Luckily for the Bruins, Miller, McAvoy, and Vaakanainen have all begun skating once again, but did not join the team to start this latest road swing. However, Bruce Cassidy did not rule out the possibility of Vaakanainen or McAvoy joining the team during the trip. Miller did travel with the team, and is expected to make his return next Wednesday in Detroit, a positive for the team, but doesn’t exactly help with the first two games of the trip looking like some of the toughest. As for Carlo, he will miss at least Wednesday night in Colorado, and did not travel with the team to start off the road trip.
All the Bruins can do now is continue to weather the storm and hope this next-man-up defense can continue performing well over the next few games without Miller, McAvoy, Carlo, and Vaakanainen.