The Boston Bruins will be without defender Jeremy Lauzon for approximately four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture in his left hand. He’ll be re-evaluated at that time to see where he stands as far as a return to the lineup. The 23-year-old defender would exit the Bruins game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Lake Tahoe early and wouldn’t return.
This injury stings for the Bruins as Lauzon was settling in nicely alongside Charlie McAvoy on the team’s top-pairing. Averaging 18:32 of ice time per game through 16 contests this season, Lauzon certainly looked the part of a full-time NHL defender. Though he may not necessarily be the best option for the team opposite McAvoy in the long-run, Lauzon still did the best he could in this spot and should see no issue earning a spot back in the lineup with healthy.
The 2015 second-round pick hasn’t quite found a way to produce at the same level offensively in the AHL or NHL as he did at the QMJHL level, but that hasn’t seemed to stop him from being an impact player for the Bruins who sit in first place in the East Division. Considering the Bruins lost both Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug, their top-two left-shot defenders, in one offseason, they haven’t missed a beat defensively this season.
Through 16 games, the Bruins have allowed just 36 goals-against, ranking third among all teams in the league behind only the Colorado Avalanche (32 in 15 games) and Vegas Golden Knights (34 in 16 games). The Bruins also have the league’s fourth-best goal-differential at a plus-15 this year which can largely be credited to the team’s ability to suppress their opposition’s offense despite dealing with so many injuries.
Bruins Dealing With Multiple Injuries on Defense
In Lauzon’s absence, the Bruins will have to make a decision about who can step into his spot on the team’s top defensive pairing. When healthy, it would make sense for the Bruins to shift Matt Grzelcyk into that spot. Unfortunately, staying healthy has been a struggle for Grzelcyk so far this season as the 27-year-old has played in just six games this year and is currently on the injured-reserve.
In addition to Grzelcyk’s injury, the Bruins are also without Jakub Zboril right now and have turned to John Moore, Connor Clifton and Urho Vaakanainen to fill in defensively. This was before the Lauzon injury as well, which creates even more questions for the Bruins who certainly have the depth to manage with injuries, but are running thin on replacement options right now. Especially with Kevan Miller missing from practice Wednesday.
Until Grzelcyk is ready to go, it would make sense for the Bruins to give Vaakanainen an opportunity alongside McAvoy. The 2017 first-round pick has looked good in Providence this season and recorded an assist, his first career point, in his first game at the NHL level this season. Vaakanainen’s ability to log big minutes against top competition was never a question during his time in Finland and he could be in line to prove he’s capable of that in the NHL alongside McAvoy out of necessity due to injury.
The Bruins don’t return to action until Thursday against the New York Islanders and should have some time to figure things out beforehand. Hopefully, the team can receive some good news on the injury front sooner than later in regards to Grzelcyk and Zboril to help mitigate the loss of Lauzon for roughly a month.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.