Boston Bruins Defense Has Been Bitten with the Injury Bug

Ryan PickardCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2009

TORONTO - DECEMBER 19:  Adam McQuaid #54 of the Boston Bruins looks out from the bench before his first NHL game action December 19, 2009 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins defense is starting to get the injury bug already. We are just 35 games into the season, but already Boston has had to start three different defensemen from the Providence Bruins.

The latest injury was to Mark Stuart, who was one of the Bruins' best defensemen. Stuart is going to be out for the next four-to-six weeks, which is a huge loss to a defense that has already been weakened. With the loss of Stuart the B's also lose a lot of physical play. Aside from Milan Lucic, Stuart was the Bruins best checker.

The defense also lost Dennis Wideman for a week but he returned in last night's game against Ottawa. Wideman was one of the leaders for the Bruins in time on ice. With his loss, the rest of the defense had to step up and fill in the minutes that Wideman normally would have played.

The players from Providence have stepped in nicely, though, and made it seem as though Wideman and Stuart were never lost. Johnny Boychuck has played 10 games for the Bruins so far, recording two goals and an assist.

Boychuck, who has spent most of his time in Providence since being traded for by the Bruins in 2008, has played tremendously this year. Boychuck brings a great physical style of play with his game, making up for the loss of Stuart. 

Two other players who have come up big for the Bruins' defense lately are Adam McQuaid and Andy Wozniewski. Both have spent most of their time in Providence as well, but have recently been called up because of the injuries plaguing Boston.

Since the injuries, most people would have figured the defense would have gone downhill, but just the opposite has happened. Last night the Bruins shut out the Ottawa Senators and currently rank fifth in the league in goals against, giving up just 2.34 a game.

If the defense can keep playing the way it has been, then it should be all set until its starters return. This gives the younger guys much more playing time, which will have them ready for when they are able to take over the starting jobs in the future.