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Midseason grades for Bruins defensemen

Matt Kalman
January 04, 2019 - 11:52 am

It’s a testament to the Bruins’ goaltending and their depth on defense that they haven’t been obliterated defensively, considering all the injuries their back end has suffered.

Every defenseman has missed games, and all but two of the eight regulars have missed nine games or more. But there they are, ranked fourth at 2.66 goals allowed per game and 12th in penalty kill efficiency.

Here are the grades for the Bruins’ defensemen:

(Grades are best on expectations for the players’ performance and production.)

Brandon Carlo

Grade: B

The only thing that sidetracked Carlo from picking up where he left off last year before he was injured was another injury this season. Otherwise, he’s proving to be a solid shutdown defense, regardless of who he’s partnered with. He could still stand to add some offense to his game.

Zdeno Chara

Grade: B

Chara off to a strong start, but as expected, has been slower since returning from a 19-game injury absence. The Bruins have had the depth to make up for his lessened viciousness while he gets himself on track.

Matt Grzelcyk

Grade: B-plus

The leader in the clubhouse with just two games missed because of injury, Grzelcyk spent several weeks as the glue keeping the Bruins’ defense corps together – leading a top shutdown pair and moving the puck with confidence. Since the D corps has gotten healthy his game has dropped off a tad.

Steven Kampfer

Grade: C-plus

When you play in just 25 games and average just 14:34 of ice time, your misjudgments are magnified. Kampfer had a couple major miscues when he first started playing regularly but then settled down and proved he’s one of the best eighth defensemen in the business.

Torey Krug

Grade: B

It can be frustrating watching Krug’s defense sometimes, not because of his size disadvantage but because of some of the decisions he makes. But his 22 points in 30 games played more than make up for any defensive deficiencies and he’s the engine that makes the ever-important power play go.

Charlie McAvoy

Grade: B-minus

To be fair, 17 games haven’t given McAvoy enough time to get on track this season. And he’s had a couple monster games. But he’s also had some clunkers and his reluctance to shoot (15 shots on net) is baffling.

Kevan Miller

Grade: B-plus

If you don’t think Miller has become an integral two-way defenseman for this team, just look how much smoother the D corps works when he’s in the lineup. He’s been limited to 15 games and has just three assists. But his continued improvement moving the puck out of the defensive zone has made him more valuable than he was when he was just an intimidator and a stay-at-home defenseman.

John Moore

Grade: B

Moore has been everything the Bruins expected when they lured him to Boston for $2.75 million over five years. He’s big and mobile and a sound penalty-killer that could stand to make some better decisions with the puck. It’s also baffling that a guy with his skill set doesn’t get more points.

Looking ahead

Considering their needs up front, it’s unlikely the Bruins would make any moves on defense for the stretch run. Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton showed earlier this season they’re ready to fill in if the Bruins have to go nine or 10 deep. This is a solid top seven or eight when they’re healthy enough to get in a groove.

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