By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Is Matt Grzelcyk the mayor of Boston, or just Charlestown? I don't know. He's the mayor of something. He looked like he was running for mayor of the TD Garden ice on Sunday, though.
Grzelcyk scored twice and sparked the Bruins' forwards with solid play in his own end in the B's 6-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2. He recovered from a punishing early hit from Micheal Ferland, scoring within minutes and proving he wasn't injured or intimidated. But he was just one piece of a Bruins defense that has severely outplayed their counterparts in red and white through two games.
The Hurricanes' defenders are mainly known for their offense, but that has been virtually nonexistent. In both games combined, they've collectively scored one point. One. Compare that to eight for the Bruins' blue liners, who haven't even put much emphasis on scoring or even shooting in this series. And yet, they're hemming the Canes defenders in their own end and making them play actual defense, and it's come as advertised. Fire drills.
The real emphasis for the Bruins defense has mainly been on beating the Hurricanes' tough forecheck with quick, smart passes and clean breakouts. That's where Charlie McAvoy made a major impact on the game, despite staying off the score sheet. Never mind that his return slotted the rest into their proper roles and minutes. He's a stout defender with a good stick and great instincts to get the puck where it needs to be.
Lighting The Lamp
In the offensive end, the defense's primary job has been to simply get the puck deep or close to the net and let the forwards to the rest. There was plenty of that, too. But in Game 2 the puck just went in sometimes, thanks to shaky goaltending by Petr Mrazek. It spoke to the Bruins' defensive depth and willingness to play whatever kind of game is necessary to come out with a win.
"You know, we believe in everyone in this locker room. Cliffy [Connor Clifton] gets his first goal there – I mean that’s awesome," McAvoy said after the game, beaming. "And then like you said, all four lines are contributing so we’re going to need those efforts moving forward. We have all the confidence in the world in our guys to continue to play that way."
Grzelcyk led the way with the lamp-lighting in this one, though. But there may be a debate to settle. What is he the mayor of, exactly?
Exhibit A, Krug: "The mayor of Charlestown is sitting next to me."
And B, Jake DeBrusk: "I mean, we call Wags [Chris Wagner] the mayor of Walpole, but Grizz is the mayor of Boston."
Let the town hall begin. If the Bruins do win the Stanley Cup this season, Grzelcyk certainly deserves some kind of local honor for how he played on Mother's Day. The keys to the city, perhaps?
Wherever he takes his post, Grzelcyk played like a man who wants your vote. And if you're forced to choose between which defensive corps you want for the rest of this series, it's Boston in a landslide.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].