Matt Grzelcyk
Matt Grzelcyk could wind up being the unsung hero for the Boston Bruins. Charlie McAvoy can’t do it by himself. Grzelcyk has to be that guy. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Matt Grzelcyk Could Be The Bruins Unsung Hero

The Boston Bruins have been tasked with trying to replace Torey Krug and legend Zdeno Chara in one offseason. Better yet, Jeremy Lauzon, Brandon Carlo, and Kevan Miller are now on the shelf. Boston has a lot of defensemen playing in roles they probably don’t belong.

Charlie McAvoy is rapidly becoming a star, but he can’t do it alone. The former Boston University alum is a force on both ends of the ice anchoring the defense for the Bruins. Another former Boston University alum on the roster is quietly becoming uber important. Can Matt Grzelcyk become the unsung hero for the Bruins?

Grzelcyk, 27, has been around the Bruins for a bit now but he’s been down on the pecking order. Now? Grzelcyk has to be the man. There are no reinforcements coming as of right now. It’s the two Boston University defenseman; McAvoy and Grzelcyk that has to carry this unit.

For all the fantasy hockey players out there, Grzelcyk isn’t a bad flier to pick up. Yes, he got off to a slow start after sitting out 13 games, but he’s back in full swing now. Grzelcyk serves as the puck mover on Boston’s top power play line. You know, that same group with David Pasternak, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron. Grzelcyk should be able to cheese his way into points all year.

Speaking of puck movers, Grzelcyk excels at distributing the puck. Cycling and moving the puck are right up his wheelhouse. Head coach Bruce Cassidy spoke about how important that skill set is for the Bruins.

“He’s a good puck mover, and makes plays and likes to distribute first,” Cassidy said of Grzelcyk after Boston’s 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. “And that’s the ask up there — certainly gotta shoot it when it’s your turn. And getting him some touches and reps is very important for us right now. … It’s a little bit of allowing those guys to get a better feel for their game and trust them to get the job done on it, and they’re starting to. So that’s good, maybe it’ll translate to the 5-on-5 game. I think it did with Grizz tonight and Krech, they’re moving, making plays, feeling a little better about it.”

“Grizz, we need him to be that guy. We are down some puck movers there. We went into the year with some newness back there. We need him to be a good puck mover, let’s put it that way,” Cassidy said. “The Lauzons and the Carlos are going to go in to defend, and he needs to be part of that offense, and Charlie (McAvoy), right now we have them playing together, we’ll see how that plays out going forward. But we need Grizz to be that guy, to be that transition guy, some easy access to the other teams end for the forwards.

“We’re having trouble scoring goals now, that goes without saying, and some of that falls on the forwards abilities to get inside and make plays themselves,” Cassidy added. “But, most good offensive teams have D that can initiate the breakout and initiate some transition … it just makes it easier for everybody, and Grizz is a valuable guy when it comes to that.”

The Bruins likely need to pull the trigger on a trade for a defenseman. Mattias Ekholm seems to be a hot name on the market. Regardless, Grzelcyk has a chance to prove he belongs on the top unit with McAvoy. The Bruins offense has taken a dip and part of the reason might be Krug is no longer sporting the B on his chest.

The truth of the matter is, Grzelcyk is only part of the solution. A tick up in his game could help the Bruins. He’s incredibly mobile in the backend and can help move the puck. However, Grzelcyk still checks in at 5-foot-9, 174. Boston is still missing that enforcer they seemingly have had forever with Chara.

Boston ranks 21st in goals scored right behind the dog shit Rangers. NOT GREAT. Even the special teams unit only ranks 11th at the moment. Grzelcyk might just be able to help in both areas now that he’s healthy and back in the lineup. Surprisingly, the Bruins have only given up 54 goals which just behind the Stars (who have played a lot fewer games), Lightning, and Knights. A lot of that has to do with great goalie play from Tuuka Rask and Jaro Halak.

Doesn’t that number also seem fluky? A bunch of no name defensemen are getting the job while the high powered offense isn’t scoring at a rate we’re used to. Maybe that can just be chalked up to the year of corona.

Nevertheless, a guy named Matt Grzelcyk (Who?) might just be the secret sauce to really spark this Bruins season. As Grzelcyk starts to get back into the lineup, his ability to distribute the puck could go a long way towards putting Boston back in real contention. Charlie McAvoy can’t do it alone.