All season the Bruins have dealt with constant blows of adversity.
Through injuries and offensive struggles, this team has still found ways to win. Their depth and resiliency is why they find themselves in the Stanley Cup Final.
In Game 5, however, they may have to deal with their hardest challenge yet. In Game 4, captain Zdeno Chara took a puck off of the jaw. It is uncertain if Chara will suit up for the remainder of the finals. The Bruins may also be without Matt Grzelcyk, who is still in the concussion protocol. Without two of their top defenseman, the Bruins will again have to lean on their depth.
Assuming neither can play, it is possible that the Bruins will dress seven defensemen. Steven Kampfer could make his Cup Final debut, however, unlike Chara and Grzelcyk, he is a right-shot defenseman.
Coach Bruce Cassidy could also turn to prospects Jeremy Lauzon and Uhro Vaakanainen. They both saw action earlier this season and are left-shot defensemen. While they performed well in their limited action, the playoffs are a different animal.
Regardless of whom Cassidy chooses, Chara And Grzelcyk are not easy players to replace. Although Chara’s speed has diminished, his physical presence has still neutralized the Blues forwards. Grzelcyk is not as physical, but he is key on the second power play unit. He also excels on the forecheck and at moving the puck. In order to replace them, it will take a team effort. For this group, however, that challenge is nothing new. It is something they have done all year without some of their best players.
Additionally, the Bruins are coming off one of their most disappointing losses this season. In Game 4, they entered the third period tied at two after a back and forth battle. But they were dominated as the Blues scored twice to pull ahead.
With Chara watching from the bench barely able to talk, things seemed bleak. On Thursday night, this team will have a chance at redemption and to take the series lead. For a player like Kampfer, it could be a chance to become a hero.
Regardless of who suits up, the Bruins will not use injuries as an excuse. Missing key players is never ideal but it also adds motivation. This team has proven time and time again that they believe in each other no matter who is on the ice. Winning the Stanley Cup is never easy, and for the Bruins, things won’t get easier.
Even if Grzelcyk does return, it is unlikely Chara will suit up. He will, however, be there for his teammates as they look to take control of the series. It won’t be easy without their captain but is a challenge the Bruins are prepared to face. Game 5 is only a day away and it will make a big impact how this series will end.