The last time John Moore got the nod from Bruce Cassidy for a starting spot in the lineup, it wasn’t under the most ideal circumstances.
The Bruins might have held a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final against the Hurricanes, but a nagging injury to Zdeno Chara forced Boston’s captain to sit out Game 4 at PNC Arena — with Moore set to play in his first contest in 23 days as the next man up on Boston’s blue line.
Despite the loss of one of their top-pairing options on defense, the Bruins suffocated the Hurricanes en route to a series sweep — limiting the Hurricanes to a paltry three high-danger scoring chances all night as part of a 4-0 victory.
Moore, skating on Boston’s third pairing alongside rookie Connor Clifton, recorded 11:48 of ice time in the victory, blocking a shot while logging at least two minutes of 5v5 TOI against 14 different Hurricanes skaters.
When asked on Friday if his performance against Carolina should be judged on a similar standard as an NFL lineman (if they don’t notice, you’re doing a good job), Moore made sure not to sell himself short.
“I noticed myself, so that’s probably the good,” Moore said. "As cliched as it is, when you’re called upon to do your job, you’ve just got to do it. And I’m ready to do that.”
Fast-forward a little over two weeks later, and Cassidy is set to call on Moore once again — with the veteran skater expected to slot back into the lineup for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in place of Matt Grzelcyk, who was tabbed as “doubtful” by Cassidy for Saturday’s matchup against St. Louis.
Grzelcyk, who is still in the concussion protocol after getting hit by Blues center Oskar Sundqvist in Game 2, has yet to travel to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4. While Sundqvist will be suspended for Saturday’s matchup, Grzelcyk’s timetable for a return is much murkier — a tough hit for a Bruins D corps that could use the shifty, puck-moving skater to counter what has been a heavy St. Louis forecheck.
While Moore has not been etched into the lineup for good, Cassidy did note that the club was “leaning” on the 28-year-old to make his series debut against the Blues, given that the left-shot defenseman likely wouldn’t shuffle the rest of Boston’s lineup with his inclusion.
“This is why you train, why you prepare, why you take care of yourself,” Moore said of getting the nod. “When you're called upon, it's time to do your job. That's kind of the mentality we've had all year -- next man up. Now it's my turn, I'm ready to go.”
When comparing Moore to Grzelcyk, it seems