With spots on Bruins’ defense dwindling, John Moore making Bruce Cassidy’s decision harder

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Bruce Cassidy was candid when discussing the performance of John Moore — Boston’s top offseason acquisition on the blue line — back on Dec. 22.

Up to that point, Moore was largely as advertised as an effective, left-shot D who can kill penalties and log heavy minutes, notching five points over 32 games while averaging 20:17 TOI. And yet — whether it be adjusting to both a new defensive system or numerous defensive pairings during an injury-plagued month for the B’s — Cassidy noted Moore had fallen into a bit of a rut.

Now, a “rut” (0 points, minus-4 over five games) happens to even the best defensemen over the course of a long NHL season. But on a Bruins D corps with 7-8 legitimate everyday players — and just six starting spots — even something as ordinary as a slump can end with watching games up on the ninth floor for an extended stretch.

“I think sometimes if he makes a mistake or it doesn’t go his way,  then he’ll try to correct it all at once,” Cassidy said of the reasoning behind Moore’s mid-season slump back on Dec. 22. "I think he was having an easier time earlier in the year, just letting the game come to him and sometimes there’s different reasons for that

“A guy might put expectations on himself, ‘I need to be plus this or I need this many points’ and so they start overthinking it instead of just letting it develop. … Eventually, it’s going to come around when you’re a good player and that’s just where John’s at.”

In the time since, Boston’s once-decimated D corps has largely been replenished. Zdeno Chara rejoined the club on Dec. 27 after sitting out a month-plus due to an MCL injury, while Kevan Miller was cleared the same night after taking a puck to the throat a month prior.

By the time Charlie McAvoy is cleared to return to the lineup, Cassidy is going to have a tough call to make when it comes to deciding which NHL regular will have to be the odd-man out of Boston’s starting rotation on defense.

And based on his recent play, Moore isn’t making things any easier for his bench boss.