Bruins Left Wing Depth Will Be Tested With Hall’s Injury

It was announced in June that Boston Bruins first line left wing Brad Marchand was going to miss the beginning of the 2022-23 season recovering from offseason surgery. It is expected that the Black and Gold’s leading scorer from a year ago will return sometime in late November or early December, but there is no doubt that it leaves a huge void in the top six.

If there was one thing that the Bruins could not afford in training camp or early in the regular season is another injury to a left wing. That became reality on Saturday when Taylor Hall left Boston’s preseason game at the TD Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers after just two periods with an injury and now an already thin left wing depth chart gets even smaller before the season even kicks off for real.

Hall Suffered Upper-Body Injury Against Flyers

Following the Bruins’ 4-0 win over the Flyers on Saturday first-year Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said that Hall’s injury, along with prospect Fabian Lysell who was also injured, was going to be day-to-day. That narrative changed on Sunday when Montgomery said that Hall was going to be week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Taylor Hall Boston Bruins
Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“It’s a little more significant, the upper-body injury, than we expected [Saturday],” said Montgomery.

That is not good news for a position that is already missing its top player in Marchand. The Bruins were hoping to roll out the second line of Hall, David Krejci, and David Pastrnak to begin the season, but now that idea is gone. How Montgomery goes about filling out the top six remains to be seen, but there are options he has, albeit, not options that are going to come anywhere close to filling the shoes of either Marchand or Hall.

Bruins’ Lack of Left Wing Going to Be Tested

This is where things get very sticky for the Bruins. Over the summer, Montgomery said that he expected Nick Foligno to have a bigger role with the team this season than he had in his struggling first season in Boston in 2021-22 (from ‘A wide-ranging interview with Bruins coach Jim Montgomery,’ Boston Globe, Aug. 28, 2022). I don’t think he thought that the veteran might be needing to make a bigger impact in the top-six at the start of the season.

Jim Montgomery Boston Bruins
Jim Montgomery, Boston Bruins head coach (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Foligno could be moved up to the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk, with Pavel Zacha, who was expected to get the first line shifts in Marchand’s absence sliding down to the second line with Krejci and Pastrnak. Another option is keeping Zacha on the first line with Bergeron and moving Pastrnak next to Bergeron, but that would mean a possible second line of Foligno, Krejci, and DeBrusk.

Trent Frederic is an option to be bumped up instead of Foligno, but he has not exactly been sticking out in the preseason games and he’s currently not a top-six forward, even in a fill-in role. The one player that could be a wild card in all of this is Craig Smith. The third-line right wing has struggled in his first two seasons in Boston putting the puck into the net, but it’s not for a lack of effort for the right wing. In reality, moving with Frederic or Smith into the top-six would not solve the Bruins’ need for offense.

Related: 5 Bold Bruins Predictions for Krejci, DeBrusk, Zacha & More

This is a worst-case scenario for the Bruins and Montgomery. Missing your two top-six left wings to begin the season is not an ideal way to start the season, especially if there is a lack of depth on the roster at the position. No matter which way Montgomery and the coaching staff mix and match to begin the season until Hall returns, it’s going to hamper the offense and most likely limit the production. This puts more weight on the shoulders of Bergeron, DeBrusk, Krejci, and Pastrnak early in the season to produce if they are going to survive the injuries in the Eastern Conference standings. 

The Bruins have two more preseason games, Wednesday against the New York Rangers and Saturday against the New Jersey Devils to figure out what the left wing in the top-six will look like against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 12. You figured the Bruins’ depth would be tested this season, but no one thought it would before the season actually started for real.

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