Boston Bruins Injury Crisis a Factor in Game 6

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins Injury
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 06: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins reacts against the St. Louis Blues during the third period in Game Five of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 06, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins injury problems grow more and more prominent by the day. Since the Bruins commanding victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the team has dropped two straight and now sit just one game away from elimination. Bruins captain and primary penalty killer Zdeno Chara is reportedly playing with a broken jaw. Faceoff genius and Selke award nominee Patrice Bergeron has shrugged off rumours of an injury since the Bruins completed their sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes. Matt Grzelcyk, a key piece of the Bruins blue line group, hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in Game 2. If the Bruins want to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive, it will require battling through a host of injury problems.

The Boston Bruins Injury Problems will be a Major Factor

The uncertain status of Zdeno Chara’s ability to play with a broken jaw factored heavily into the Bruins Game 5 loss at home. The worry that Chara might aggravate his jaw injury caused Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy to dress seven defencemen, which caused forward line chemistry issues. Players like Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle found themselves bouncing all over the line-up to compensate for the extra blue-liner on the bench. Although the injured Chara was able to contribute, the already-struggling Bruins forward group suffered from the lack of chemistry.

The so-called “perfection” line for the Bruins has been anything but perfect. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak started the Stanley Cup Playoffs rough but seemed to find their stride against the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final. However, the forward trio has been invisible during the Final.

The Bruins need their top line to produce to win hockey games, especially against the relentless forechecking and hitting of the St. Louis Blues.  Although no information is set in stone, both Bergeron and Marchand have been hounded by injury rumours since the final began. During a scrimmage game held to help the Bruins stay sharp, Marchand was seen wincing and favouring his wrist. Although he was apparently “fine”, a wrist injury would explain how a 100 point scorer became unable to handle the puck overnight. Bergeron, who infamously played through the 2013 Stanley Cup Final with a punctured lung, has been chased by vague injury rumours since his production dropped. Injuries to two of the Bruin’s best all-around players would explain why this line has been so far from perfect.

Line Shuffling Disrupts Team Chemistry

Besides the obvious problem of losing vital players to the grind of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins face even more difficulty. The ever-changing lineups that injuries force, disrupt the chemistry of established lines and defensive units. The Bruins fourth line has been one of the only consistent parts of the team during this run, and injuries up the depth chart have torn them apart. Johansson and Coyle, the two trade deadline acquisitions who play together like longtime teammates, fill in and take extra shifts in the hole that dressing seven defensemen created. The last thing that a team struggling with puck movement and sustained pressure needs is to break apart their most effective lines. However, injuries to defensemen and nagging issues with forwards make it necessary.

David Krejci, another player who may or may not be battling through an injury, has only managed to contribute to the team with a spectacular save. He isn’t shooting the puck well or often, and Cassidy has been forced to shuffle half a dozen players in and out of the second line in an attempt to get the top six going. Constant, nightly disruption of line chemistry caused by injuries pushed the Bruins to the brink of their second Stanley Cup Final defeat in six years.

The Bruins Must Play Through the Injury Epidemic

Conventional wisdom says that everyone who’s playing in the Stanley Cup Final is playing hurt. The NHL’s season is long and arduous, and it only gets worse when the playoffs start. There are no exceptions, and the Boston Bruins must play through their injury epidemic if they want a chance to play game seven in front of their home fans. Legends are born in the Stanley Cup Final, and the Bruins just may need one to keep their hopes alive.

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