The hits just keep on coming for the Boston Bruins. After leaving Tuesday night's game in the second period against the Ottawa Senators, Bruins' defenseman Andrew Ference will be on the shelf for the next six-weeks with another groin injury.
Last year Ference played in just 47 regular season games for the Bruins and just three playoff games before undergoing surgery to repair the damaged groin. The Bruins have now lost 71 man games due to injury thus far. With Patrice Bergeron out for the next two-to-three weeks and Mark Stuart still sidelined with a broken sternum, those man games are going to increase fast and furiously.
But it's not just the injuries that should make Chiarelli and co. hit the panic button soon. It's also the lack of full-out effort and sub-par level of play from a few named players.
One blue-liner in particular has been Matt Hunwick. After being rewarded a two-year contract this offseason, No. 48 has been inconsistent in 2009-10 on both ends of the ice and both sides of the puck. His offensive numbers are way down from what was expected of him, and his defensive play has been somewhat suspect throughout the season.
His poor performance earned him a healthy scratch for a couple of nights a few weeks ago, giving way for Johnny Boychuk to make his mark. It didn't take long for Boychuk to shine and became a legitimate top-4 defenseman on this squad—completely surpassing Hunwick on the depth charts with his size, shot, and all around play on the blue-line. No. 55's superior abilities have earned him added playing time, including on the power play.
For the Bruins to go deep into the playoffs this season, they are going to need a defensive core with a bit more depth and experience.
Take for instance last season: the Bruins relied heavily—not only on Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman—but from Steve Montador as well when the depth got thin on D. [Hunwick and Ference playing just four total playoff games]
While Montador is a good, physical defenseman himself, he just wasn't good enough to pick up the slack. When a player like Montador is logging an average of 19:32 per game in the playoffs, yet is playing 29:30 in a Game Seven, you know your team is lacking depth.
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