The Boston Bruins have had a solid start to the 2017-18 regular season. The Bruins struggled early on in the season as they dealt with injuries and a shaky starting goaltender to remain in a playoff spot. Once the Bruins returned to full health as a unit, the wins began to pile up. At the moment, the black and gold are tied for their second-longest point streak, with a point in each of their last eighteen contests, (14-0-4), and sit third place in the entire league standings, behind only Vegas and Tampa Bay.
Some would say that the injury bug to begin the campaign was a negative thing, as a healthy team produced more wins than an injured one, but one of the injuries created a new promising young player. When Torey Krug went down with an upper-body injury back in November, and d-man Adam McQuaid had a broken leg, the Bruins were forced to call-up another defender from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League. They chose 2012 3rd round pick, Matt Grzelcyk.
Prior to his call-up to the big leagues on November 21, 2017, Grzelcyk had only two NHL games underneath his belt coming in the ’16/’17 season, both of which he got limited ice time, (14:34 vs Pittsburgh and 10:24 vs Anaheim). Grzelcyk would, however, get seventy games with Providence in the 2016-17 season. During the time span, Grzelcyk would put up 6-26-32 totals and a +13 rating, making an impact with the Boston affiliate team.
Once again, Matt would begin the season with the P-Bruins, playing in fourteen games before the news of the call-up. Grzelcyk would not tally a goal in the span but would contribute with four assists and a +4 rating as well. When the news that his call-up to Boston, Grzelcyk realized he needed to play his very best hockey of his life in order to remain on the main squad.
From the beginning, the Boston, Mass. native surprised critics from the get-go with his impressive puck handling as well as skating ability that left defenders clueless in the Bruins’ defensive zone. Below is a prediction made by Mike Drover in September of 2017 on Matt Grzelcyk.
“When the Bruins’ head office compares you to Torey Krug, you’re doing something right. That’s exactly the case for Grzelcyk, who appears to be on the right trajectory for an NHL appearance in the near future. He is a small defender at only 5-9 but is offensively gifted and has a strong first pass. Though small, Grzelcyk is not afraid to defend but will have to prove that he’s got the strength to not get pushed around before making the jump to the NHL. Mike Drover”
Only 29 games into the NHL season, the predictions are true. Grzelcyk is yet to show a lot of weakness when being pushed by the opposition. Grzelcyk is able to effectively handle the puck behind the net and make a wise breakout pass to either begin a scoring chance or to clear the puck and get a line change. Grzelcyk has taken off some of the offensive pressure that was placed on Torey Krug before his arrival. Of course, Charlie McAvoy has also done a solid job of providing offensive assistance to the B’s blueline.
The above video, courtesy of Boston University on YouTube, showed some small samples of the puck handling abilities that he is capable of. In the video, Grzelcyk stated, “I want to be the quarterback, distribute the puck to my teammates.” Many Bruins fans consider Torey Krug to be the quarterback of the blueline, so to have two of them on one team, is a special thing.
Courtesy of Boston Bruins on Twitter, below is a video of Matt and his dad, John Grzelcyk, after he scored his first career NHL goal in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Paul Barstad, the creator of the Facebook group, The Bear Cave, mentioned the roots of the Grzelcyk family in Boston, as John Grzelcyk has been apart of the “Bull Gang” for 25-30 years. The Bull Gang is the crew of people in the TD Garden who transform the Bruins ice rink to the Boston Celtics basketball court, or for concert stages and other special events. Throughout John’s life, he has seen many Bruins moments and many, many goals, but to him, nothing was as special nor important as his son scoring his first NHL goal that can be seen below.
Even when defenceman Adam McQuaid was cleared to come back into the lineup, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy kept McQuaid sitting and did not remove Grzelcyk from the six-man core of defencemen. Clearly, the play of Grzelcyk impressed the management enough to play him continually.
This season, the Bruins have had some young players play well such as Charlie McAvoy, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk and a few others, but now it is officially time to name Matt Grzelcyk with those young players as a future Bruin for a long time.