( Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty / USA Today Sports )

By: Danielle DuBois | Follow Me on Twitter @DanielleDuBois

The Boston Bruins’ defense is remarkable this season. With almost the same roster as last season’s defense, what caused this sudden turnaround? Each week we will be breaking down a player on the Bruins’ defense and discussing why it works. This week we will take a look at our final defender, Matt Grzelcyk. 

Matt Grzelcyk started his professional hockey career after committing to Boston University. During his time at BU, he served as captain for two seasons and scored the game-winning goal in the 63rd Bean Pot. After his time at BU, Grzelcyk was signed by the Boston Bruins to a two-year entry-level contract for the 2016-2017 season. Grzelcyk made his NHL debut on December 14, 2016, in an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Throughout Grzelcyk’s career with the Bruins, he has suffered multiple injuries. His most recent injury was a dislocated shoulder that he suffered in the Carolina Hurricanes playoff series. This shoulder injury caused him to have off-season surgery which set him back going into the season. Grzelcyk had his season debut on October 20th vs. the Anaheim Ducks. Due to Charlie McAvoy’s injury, the defensive lines were different than usual, causing Grzelcyk to be paired with Jakub Zboril. 

Despite the off-season injury, Grzelcyk started off hot by getting an assist and his 99th career point in his first game back. While Grzelcyk’s season started off on the right note, he took a decline after his first month of play. Grzelcyk looked slow, and he couldn’t hang on to the puck, no matter what. Most of the time, when he was on the ice, he was a liability for the team, and more bad than good would happen. I’m not sure whether the injury was to blame or not, but something wasn’t clicking for Grzelcyk. 

Grzelcyk also isn’t a huge hitter which is a setback for the Bruins. He only has 24 hits this season which is a pretty low number for a Bruins defender. Most Bruins defenders have at least 40 hits this season, so Grzelcyk is falling behind in that category.   

For a while, he wasn’t producing much offensive talent, either. He went 33 games without scoring a goal which is an awful streak to have for any player. After only scoring one goal this season, Grzelcyk came up big and scored his second goal of the season. This goal came at the perfect moment. The Bruins were tied 3-3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and in the last 76 seconds of the game, Grzelcyk scored the game-winning goal. And his scoring didn’t stop there. In the following game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Grzelcyk scored a goal and an assist. That brought his assist count to 13 on the season. 

We’ve seen Grzelcyk paired with McAvoy on the first line while Hampus Lindholm moved down to play with Brandon Carlo. While the Lindholm and McAvoy line worked well, moving Grzelcyk up with McAvoy allows him to develop his skills and learn from our number-one defender. We will continue to see how Grzelcyk develops with the second half of the season quickly approaching.