The offensive outburst that the Bruins have strung together the past two months has been nothing short of dominant. While opposing teams plan to defend against four strong lines, they should also be concerned about players manning the blue line.
Boston’s top six defensemen, led by captain Zdeno Chara, mixes a perfect balance of skill and physicality. Boston leads the NHL with a 1.9 goals against average and that is in large part attributed to the Bruins back six.
Chara was paired with Dennis Seidenberg throughout much of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoff run. Collectively, Chara and Seidenberg racked up the most total minutes between any defensive tandem during the playoffs. Chara has been matched up with Johnny Boychuk for most of this season. Both of these players have the ability to throw a hit as well as provide some fire power on the offensive end. Chara is second in the league with a plus-27 rating
What both of these players lack is speed. More often than not teams will blow by Boychuk and Chara along the boards en route to a quality scoring chance. Boychuk will try to throw his signature hip check on the opposing player but he lives and dies by it so it will not always work.
As for Seidenberg, he has been matched up with Joe Corvo, a veteran puck mover who came over from the Carolina Hurricanes during the offseason in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. This is arguably the B’s most skilled defensive pair. Seidenberg and Corvo possess great offensive talent along with a physical presence in front of their net. The two have a combined 27 assists through 38 games this season.
The problem is the lack of production on the power play. Corvo was supposed to come in and be the savior as the Bruins’ puck-moving defenseman and Seidenberg has seen ample ice time on the man advantage. Just one power play goal between Corvo and Seidenberg is not enough.
The third pair consists of Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid. Ference has shown strong veteran leadership and has been rewarded with one of the alternate captaincies for this team. McQuaid is a tough player who plays a heavy game and will always stick up for his teammates. What is scary with this pair is that one game they are hot and the next game they become cold as far as production and physicality.
The Bruins also have young prospects in the minor leagues that are ready to play at the NHL level.
Steven Kampfer played in 38 games last season for Boston with 5-5-10 point totals. Unfortunately, he was just three games shy of having his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. With the defense playing so well right now he might be a healthy scratch for some time. Kampfer has only skated in six games this season.
Matt Bartkowski has been playing solid down for the AHL Providence Bruins. He has been called up by the Bruins in the past, so they must feel like he can fill in for an injured player.
The Bruins used their first round selection in this year’s NHL Entry Draft on Dougie Hamilton, who they hope will be their top defenseman of the future. He is a legit puck mover with a strong upper body.
Four out of the Bruins’ top six defensemen are signed past the 2011-12 campaign (Chara, Seidenberg, Ference, McQuaid). One of these young defenders could put heat on Boychuk or Corvo to play hard if they want to wear the black and gold next season.