The Boston blueline has endured a lot of adversity this season. Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Kevan Miller have all missed good portions of time this season. At one point Boston's defensive core featured young AHLers and yet, the Bruins found away to stay afloat. For the sake of length I'm limiting the cut off to defenseman who've played more than 10 games therefore Connor Clifton (9GP), Jakub Zboril (2GP) and Urho Vaakanainen (2GP) won't be featured on this report card. So, how has the backend stacked up through midseason?
Zdeno Chara: B
The Bruins captain and 41 year old rearguard has only played in 24 games due to a knee injury. But make no mistake despite his age Chara is still a critical part of this team's blueline. While it may not seem logical to have a 41 year old as your number one defenseman Chara has done wonders playing alongside youngsters Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy. His return from injury has seen some noticeable rust however, the Bruins are better off with Chara than without him. He provides experience, leadership, and can still eat up minutes averaging 23:36 minutes a night.
Charlie McAvoy: C
It's hard to gauge McAvoy as he hasn't even played 20 games yet. A concussion and now lower body ailment have set the sophomore defenseman back, however, he's managed 11 points through 17 games showing a bit of that offensive flash he showed when he scored 32 points in 63 games as a rookie. Health is the 21 year old and the Bruins biggest concern as much like with his partner Chara, a healthy McAvoy makes the Bruins better.
Brandon Carlo: C-
Carlo has also had a stint on the IR and has played in 34 games this season. It seems as though Carlo continues to be the "ugly duckling" of the Bruins defense. His every mistake is magnified and broken down while his good performances go unnoticed. Playing with Torey Krug instead of Chara no doubt has negative impacts. Recently he's been playing more particularly on offensive zone faceoffs. Yet, even with increased playing time, Carlo's on-ice for Corsi is 49% with six Bruins goals scored and five allowed. This is since December 16th per Bruins Stats (@bruins_stats)
Torey Krug: A
The guy that a majority of Bruins fans seem ready to pack up and ship out. While trading Krug to boost the team's forward situation isn't outlandish as Ty Anderson of 98.5 highlighted, lets not be too hasty. The Bruins are in good shape on the left side and Krug plays a big role in that. Another spot Krug is crucial in? The power play. Krug is a wizard with 17 power play points on the season and 28 overall Krug's offensive upside at both 5v5 and the man advantage are undeniable. His 54% Corsi For rating too indicates he's not as big of a liability as Bruins fans might think. He's no Norris winner, but he's one of the Bruins most valuable offensive and defensive pieces.
John Moore: B-
People were perplexed when Don Sweeney dished out a five year contract to journeyman John Moore, however, Moore's been just about everything as advertised. He's provided much needed stability on the left side and has stepped up mightily in the face of injury to his fellow defensemen. A terrific skater, Moore hasn't been terrible nor brilliant in either end and his nine points through 40 games aren't mind-blowing either. But if the 28 year old can continue to just play his simple style the Bruins will be in good shape.
Kevan Miller: D
Miller has had his bouts with injuries too, including a scary throat injury he suffered against Toronto. The Bruins rugged rearguard is healthy again and back to being slotted at the third pairing position, his ideal role. Miller has improved over the course of his tenure in Boston and has found a spot as a bottom pairing defenseman. He's only played in 17 games but Miller's physicality (34 hits) and 34 blocks all contribute to his hard style of play.
Matt Grzelcyk: B
Grzelcyk has taken a positive step forward in his second full season with the Bruins. The 25 year old is averaging more time on ice and already has 12 points through 41 games (He had 15 through 61 games last season) He's no Torey Krug and hasn't wowed when it comes to quarterbacking the power play, but Grzelcyk has emerged as a smooth skating, puck rushing defenseman, that can make plays in all three zones. His possession metrics have dipped, likely due to playing nearly four more minutes on average. Make no mistake, Grzelcyk at 25, is a solid part of that left side.
Steven Kampfer: D+
In his second tour of duty with the Bruins after stints in Minnesota, Florida, and New York Kampfer has played in 25 games this season playing bottom pairing minutes. He hasn't stood out for better or for worse and could be argued to be an upgrade over Adam McQuaid. That trade netted the Bruins a fourth and seventh round pick so an added bonus for sure.
Jeremy Lauzon: C-
He only played 15 games but I enjoyed watching Lauzon take advantage of his first NHL call up. Lauzon played roughly 15 minutes a night as a 21 year old and scored his first career NHL goal against the Golden Knights. The sample size is a small one but I think if you're a Bruins fans you have to be encouraged with what was seen from the Bruins former second round pick.
Photo Credit: (NESN.com)