Boston Bruins Should Play Matt Grzelcyk in Game 3


The Boston Bruins are heading to Florida tied in their best-of-seven series against the Florida Panthers. The Bruins are coming off of one of, if not their worst loss of the year Wednesday night and are looking to bounce back Friday to reclaim the series lead and get things back on track. Until they do so, though, there will undoubtedly be a lot of concerned fans in Boston as well as questions that must be answered.

Matt Grzelcyk Boston Bruins
Matt Grzelcyk should slot into the Boston Bruins lineup when they head to Florida to take on the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While one question that should be at the top of everyone’s list revolves around the status of captain Patrice Bergeron and whether he’ll suit up for his first game of the 2023 postseason or not. Another question revolves around defender Matt Grzelcyk and the possibility that he could find himself in the lineup for his first taste of action in the playoffs this year.

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The case for Grzelcyk getting back in the lineup is an obvious one; the Bruins have one of the best transition defenders in the NHL just sitting in the press box right now and their biggest issues from Game 1 and Game 2 stemmed from their inability to exit the defensive zone. Insert Grzelcyk, and these defensive-zone exits and neutral-zone transition plays could look much cleaner, more efficient and ultimately, more effective.

Grzelcyk Adds a Different Element to Bruins’ Lineup

When discussing Grzelcyk and his status moving forward, head coach Jim Montgomery would mention as much.

“I think transition hockey and then the one part of Grizzy’s game that’s very underrated is how he kills plays before they end up in our own end,” Montgomery told reporters. He’d further explain what Grzelcyk does so well to benefit the Bruins when he’s in the lineup. “His great feet, angles, and ability to gap up on people force turnovers or maintain pucks in the offensive zone or three-quarter ice, which really allows us to get to our game. So I think he can benefit us in those areas.”

Related: 3 Takeaways From Bruins’ 6-3 Loss to the Panthers in Game 2

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By bringing a player into the lineup, the Bruins would also have to take a player out as well. The most likely option to take a seat should Grzelcyk slot into the defensive unit would be Derek Forbort. The 31-year-old defender returned to the team’s lineup for Game 1 of the postseason after missing over a month of action with a lower-body injury. He, like many of the other defenders on the Bruins, hasn’t looked his best yet in this series. He could find himself sitting, not necessarily as a result of his play – which will only improve with repetitions, but rather, as a result of the Bruins’ need for transition.

Forbort’s ability to be a shutdown force on the penalty kill should not be overlooked, but neither should the Bruins’ success without Forbort to close out the season; this team is deep and can afford to have one less defender who specializes in this area if it means improving in an area of need. The Bruins are going to be alternating defenders throughout the playoffs depending on matchups, needs and performances; that’s the reality of the situation, and this situation is calling for Grzelcyk to suit up.

Matt Grzelcyk Boston Bruins
Matt Grzelcyk adds a different element to the Boston Bruins lineup. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The team has had a next-man-up mentality all season long and the confidence in this group to get the job done regardless of who’s in and who’s out of the lineup is impossible to ignore. The best teams play for each other, and this team just happens to have good players sitting in the press box at any given time due to their depth.

One other thing that was notable about Montgomery’s discussion following Game 2’s loss was his composure. Losing in such a definitive way in the playoffs after having a historic regular season will certainly turn some heads and create some doubt, but Montgomery and the Bruins don’t seem to be phased in the slightest. Keeping his team calm and composed and understanding that losses do happen is part of what makes Montgomery such an integral piece of this Bruins’ season. The stage doesn’t seem too big for him, nor does it seem too big for any of his players right now.

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