Heading into Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, rumors circulated around the Boston Bruins organization and who they may add to bolster a defensive blue line that is still hurting from the loss of Dennis Seidenberg. The numbers, especially on the penalty kill, without Seidenberg in the lineup have been staggering and have only reinforced just how important he was to the team.
Coming into the season, the Bruins penalty kill was expected to once again be one of the team’s greatest strengths throughout the season. Early on in the season it was trending that way and through the first 38 games the Bruins ranked 3rd in the league in penalty kill percentage. Since the loss of Seidenberg however, the team has dropped to 13th in the league.
It is not just the penalty kill that has suffered since the injury to Seidenberg, as the team’s overall goals allowed per game has gone up as well. The Bruins were allowing an average of just 1.95 goals a game before the injury, and they have allowed 2.72 goals a game since. Although all of the team’s defensive woes cannot be attributed solely to the loss of Seidenberg, it would be naïve to think it is just coincidence that the team’s defensive numbers have been slowly going down since the injury.
Looking at the numbers, the top priority for GM Peter Chiarelli at the deadline was to find a top-four defenseman and also add some depth on the blue line with the status of Adam McQuaid still unknown.
After the dust had settled, and the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline had come and gone, Boston had two new defensemen: Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter. I will pause a moment here to let the shock of acquiring two big names like Meszaros and Potter truly sink in. Alright, so those are not exactly the blockbuster moves that Bruins fans were looking for, but it does add some depth to the defense which could allow coach Claude Julien to rest Zdeno Chara.
Andrej Maeszaros: At 6-foot-2, 223-pounds, Maeszaros is similar in stature to Seidenberg and is also a left shot. That is where the similarities end between the two defensemen however. Despite his size, Maeszaros does not play a real physical brand of hockey like Seidenberg; ranking 12th on the Flyers with only 54 hits on the year, six less than Seidenberg had in four less games. Maeszaros has not averaged over 21:07 minutes of ice time since the ’08-’09 season, while Seidenberg has averaged over 23:00 minutes of ice time over the past four-seasons with the Bruins. https://youtu.be/IrcS7Vv6Pgk
Corey Potter: The acquisition of Potter is clearly one made out of the need to add depth because of McQuaid’s injury concerns. He has good size at 6-foot-3, 204-pounds and is a good puck-moving defenseman for a third D pairing. In 16 games with the Edmonton Oilers, he is averaging 13:47 time on ice and has five assists with an even plus-minus.
While neither player is that top-four defensemen, in his press conference announcing the moves, Chiarelli explained why he acquired both players. “We acquired these two players for depth, and when I say for depth, I just want to be clear, it doesn’t mean that they’re just reserves. It means I look at our defensive corps as a whole, and we’re just bolstering that corps and we’ve got a lot of games in a short period of time.”
It is easy to understand why Chiarelli would want to add depth to his defense because of the amount of games the Bruins will play through March and into April. However, second guessing the decision to not fill the void left by Seidenberg is reasonable, especially when the team’s defense has allowed multiple breakaways and odd-man rushes the last few games.
What Chiarelli is banking on is the sum of his teams parts will ultimately be greater than one individual defenseman he could have brought in at the deadline. He was not going to force a deal and break up such a cohesive group of players just for the sake of making a deal.
So while the Bruins biggest rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, were adding a firecracker in Thomas Vanek, Boston got two sparklers in Maeszaros and Potter.