By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It’s officially “No D-Head SZN” for the Bruins.
On the second leg of a traveling back-to-back — and with a five-day break coming up after tonight’s contest with the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum — the Bruins have decided tonight’s as good a night as any for defenseman John Moore to finally make his season debut.
“He’s been working hard, so tonight’s a good night to do it,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the move to put Moore in Saturday’s lineup. “We’ll go from there.”
A spectator for the first 13 games of the 2021 campaign, either because of a lingering lower-body injury or the numbers game working against him, Moore’s season debut will come at the expense of Connor Clifton, who has dressed for seven of the last nine contests.
Jumping back into the mix after a long layoff is nothing new for Moore, who has often been utilized as Boston’s No. 8 defenseman since joining the B’s in 2018, and Cassidy knows it.
“For him, it’s a matter of just play to your strengths, be consistent, help him win games, do what you do best, and try not to do too much,” Cassidy said. “But when there is a play to be made, hopefully you’re ready for and have the confidence to do it, even though you haven’t seen a lot of action so far.”
And the Bruins aren’t going to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Moore’s 2021 debut, with the 30-year-old set to slide right into the second pairing with Brandon Carlo, leaving the Bruins’ other pairs untouched. It’s an approach that Cassidy believes works for all, but especially the player stepping up.
“I think players appreciate when they go in knowing that, ‘OK, the coach does have trust in me to play,'” Cassidy admitted. “The message we’re trying to send is you’re good enough to play. We just feel, right or wrong, that we have six or seven other defensemen that make us a better lineup or are ahead of you for whatever reason. There’s some different things that go into that.
“But we do want them to understand that, ‘Hey, you know, it’s not like we don’t think you can play. We’re just leaning this other way.’ So when they go in, we do try to give them an opportunity to contribute.”
Moore totaled two goals and three points, along with 36 hits and 27 blocks, in 24 games last year.