Friday will be a night to remember for Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton — with the blueliner duo set to become the first Bruins defensemen to make their debuts in the same game since Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara accomplished the feat on Oct. 13, 2016 against Columbus.
But Zboril and Clifton’s fortunes stand in stark contrast to the misery that is the Bruins’ current D corps — with five of the team’s six Opening Night starters sidelined due to injury.
The last 36 hours have seen some of the final remnants of Boston’s starting blue line fall to injury — with captain Zdeno Chara suffering a lower-body ailment against Colorado on Wednesday after his knee appeared to buckle following a check.
Chara’s status is still uncertain going forward, but he was sent back to Boston on Thursday to undergo further evaluation.
Just hours ahead of Friday’s road tilt against the Stars, Boston’s blue line suffered another blow — as John Moore did not participate in morning skate due to a lingering lower-body injury. Bruce Cassidy noted that Moore is listed as “day to day” going forward, and is “questionable” for Saturday’s matchup against the Coyotes.
That gives Boston a hobbled defense without its starting right side in Brandon Carlo (upper-body), Kevan Miller (hand) and Charlie McAvoy (concussion) — along with a decimated left side with Chara and Moore both out of commission.
Even the reinforcements on the back end have been hard to come by for the Black and Gold, with Boston’s go-to option down on the farm in Urho Vaakanainen still on the road to recovery after suffering a concussion against Ottawa on Oct. 23.
Stuck in a back-to-back slate this weekend, it seems as though the Bruins will have to trudge through with their inexperienced D corps for at least a couple of games, with Wednesday’s matchup in Detroit standing as the likely return date for Miller.
McAvoy and Carlo also have a chance to return after this weekend, but neither player traveled with the team on its flight out west on Tuesday.
So for now, the Black and Gold will put their faith in a defense with an average age of 24.3 against a Stars club with some big weapons in front in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
He’s been a coach in some capacity since 1996, but Cassidy can’t recall a roster situation quite as dire as what the Bruins’ defense is facing right now.