The Bruins have received playoff goals from 19 different players so far in the postseason, tying a franchise record set back in 1988.
Six of those nineteen are defensemen, with Brandon Carlo and John Moore being the only blue liners to suit up in the playoffs so far and fail to score a goal.
In what ended as a 6-2 victory in Game 2 Sunday afternoon, it was once again the Bruins d-core chipping in offensively, scoring three of the six goals, including two from Matt Grzelcyk.
Grzelcyk opened the scoring 15:22 into the first period.
When Grzelcyk scored his second of the playoffs, it’s safe to see he was still feeling a bit sore after taking a big hit from Michael Ferland earlier in the period.
“Well, it was terrific. I mean, I think it lifts our bench when you get drilled pretty good. You know, you kind of chip it off and back to work and scores a goal, whatever it was, two shifts later, so certainly gives us a lift. I’m not surprised. He’s a tough kid,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy.
Grezelcyk’s goal wasn’t the prettiest of goals, a soft one allowed by Hurricanes’ goalie Petr Mrazek, but it’s one the Bruins will take.
“Yeah that was awesome. I was on the bench for that first one, it was awesome, jumping up and down obviously like every goal, but good for him he was a mad-man tonight,” said fellow defenseman Connor Clifton.
The opening goal wasn’t the only one of the night for Grzelcyk, who would later add his second of the night.
This one, much prettier than the first.
As great as it was to score twice in a playoff game, Grzelcyk was just happy to get a win, and move onto Game 3 with a 2-0 series lead.
“I think again it was kind of the importance of taking advantage of home ice and we came out ready to go and that’s been a strength of our team throughout the playoffs,” said Grzelcyk.
During his tenure as a Bruin, Grzelcyk has often been compared to Torey Krug for their similarities in size and in skillset. Krug admitted following the Bruins Game 2 win that he’s been a fan of Grzelcyk since day one.
“You know I’ve been one of Grz’s biggest fans since he came in the league and we joke about it all the time now that we have a couple of guys under 5’- 10” winning games in the National Hockey League and three defenseman under six foot so we’re causing havoc and doing the job,” said a smiling Krug.
Grzelcyk is one of a few local guys on the Bruins roster. From Rhode Island to Charlestown, New England is well represented inside the Bruins locker room. But as we learned on Sunday, the Bruins have a mayor among them.
“The mayor of Charlestown is sitting next to me,” Krug said while joined at the media podium by Grzelcyk. “When you have local guys coming in and doing it, having the success that they’ve had, it’s a special feeling for them I’m sure and we all get a little bit of energy off of it. We definitely give them a little bit behind the scenes and I’m glad we can enjoy this day.”
Although he may not be from the New England area, Connor Clifton has been another key to a Bruins defense that has impressed in the playoffs. On Sunday, it was the offensive side of things where Clifton was pitching in.
Forced into the lineup because of different injuries, Clifton looks nothing like a 24-year old with just 10 playoff games under his belt. Clifton was rewarded for his hard work with his first career National Hockey League goal.
Following the puck into the offensive zone, Clifton found himself in an area where most coaches might warn their younger, inexperienced players to stay away from because of how quickly the play can go the other way, catching the defense behind the play in transition.
But since Clifton joined the Bruins during Development Camp, that’s what Cassidy has seen from Clifton, and he doesn’t mind it one bit.
“That’s all we saw in him when we first saw him at Development Camp. I thought he was a winger more than a defenseman,” said Cassidy. “At first, he was up and down the ice the whole time, so it’s like that’s great. You’ve got assertive guys. It’s better to coach it back than having to push a guy every night to do that, so he always had that in him, his willingness to try to make a play.”
The Bruins have had a veteran and now healthy John Moore ready to go for at least two games now, but it’s hard to pull Clifton out of the lineup with how well he has played.
With Charlie McAvoy suspended for Game 1 Thursday night Clifton saw 11:37 of five-on-five ice time with Zdeno Chara on the Bruins top d-pairing.
Just another day at the office for the rookie defenseman.
“The same mentality you have throughout the year is next man up. You want to help the team, and you’re going to do your job and practice like it’s a game, and be ready for the call,” said Clifton.
It sounds like injured defenseman Kevan Miller could be back this series, or even better, in the Stanley Cup Final. Whenever that return date for Miller arrives, it’s going to be tough for the coaching staff to remove Clifton from the lineup.
With the way things have been going for the Bruins defensemen in the series, I wouldn't be surprised to see Carlo become the seventh Bruins defenseman to find the back of the net in Game 3.
Because why not?