Above Photo Credit: intelfeeds
By: Thomas Nystrom Follow Me On Twitter @nahstrom
The story of the 2017-2018 Boston Bruins has now reached a critical point in ‘act two’ of the the season. At this juncture it can be classified as an obstacle while being mindful that there is a thin line between that and a full blown crisis in any story arc. The obstacle Boston currently faces is a test of organizational depth, and fans are already looking for answers.
During Tuesday nights return to post-all-star action we saw two immediate tests come in the form of a cross-check to Anders Bjork, and an unreasonably late hit high on David Backes. Neither player would return in this contest and Coach Bruce Cassidy has already stated that Bjork will be missing some time. The true extent of the Backes injury is still undetermined but it appears right now that he avoided a set-back on the hit from Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie. He indicated today that he ‘feels fine’ to NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty.
This makes the last week and a half’s injuries and issues compile into something not only worth monitoring, but addressing before it becomes the narrative of the second half. Bjork is out, and if it’s a shoulder as reported.. it may be a bit before he’s back to 100%. Charlie McAvoy hopefully will return sooner than later but coming off a heart procedure there is zero pressure to rush back from anyone in the organization. Backes narrowly avoided another stint on the IR. Noel Acciari has missed time with a lower body injury and is not expected to return to action Thursday against the Blues. And lastly, Brad Marchand still has another three games to serve on his suspension for a hit that did not need to happen.
Depth is going to be a major plot point for the remainder of the season, and one that will likely be addressed at the trade deadline on February 26th. Names like Evander Kane have been tossed out there, though the general consensus is that the persistent drama surrounding him is a chemistry risk and may outweigh the upside a player like that would present. Max Pacioretty is rumored to be available but I highly doubt Montreal and Boston would come to any reasonable terms for him. Michael Grabner, James Neal, Patrick Maroon, Rick Nash, and so on — all left wingers who will come with a high asking price from their respective organizations. Besides, to me I see a higher need to perhaps add a right winger and not a left, and a player like Jordan Kyrou would be safer, and more reasonably priced at the deadline.
All options will no doubt be considered and explored accordingly, just looking at the injury report as it stands today only accentuates the need for help on the wing for the final stretch to the post-season. Should the Bruins choose to primarily work within the system, their options at the AHL level include players like Peter Cehlarik who was called up this morning to fill the void left by Accairi and Bjork, both considered day-to-day per Bruce Cassidy. If Backes winds up missing any time this season (or any center for that matter) there is the impending call-ups of Providence’s Ryan Fitzgerald and Jakob Forbacka Karlsson. Both would be exciting promotions for Bruins fans in the know, but not a move considered ‘sexy’ by the casual fan that will start jumping on board with the team for the next few months as they push for a high seed in the conference heading into the playoffs.
Simply stated, Bruins appear to be deep but could/should add to that if the goal is to be raising hardware by the end of spring. This season started with a dense unavoidable haze of melancholy but has suddenly swung to an heir of confidence and hope for a deep playoff run. How proactive the orginization is in the coming weeks with regards to putting the pieces together for Cassidy to mold into a championship team — that is the new narritive.
Thomas Nyström, Contributor.
Follow me on Twitter @nahstrom