WILMINGTON, Mass. — The position that’s most fragile for any NHL playoff team, but particularly the Bruins, is defense.
Right now, if Boston suffered an injury to one its top six, it would have to turn to Steven Kampfer, who has struggled toward the end of his rookie season, or Shane Hnidy, who hasn’t played all year because of injury.
There’s no way outside of wrapping the players in bubble wrap to keep the Bruins 100 percent healthy, but now that Boston has wrapped up a playoff berth here’s my plan to at least make sure they’re at their full energy level once the postseason begins.
Starting Tuesday against Chicago, I would rest one of the Bruins’ top six defensemen — starting with Adam McQuaid, who has been a shot-blocking machine and looked a little weary in Philadelphia. Kampfer and Hnidy would then rotate filling that player’s spot.
There are seven games left, so you could get Kampfer and Hnidy three or four games to sharpen their skills before they’re hopefully not needed in the postseason. And then you could get each of the top six one game off with one blueliner — preferably captain Zdeno Chara — getting two games off to be rested and ready for the most important time of the year.
As for the goaltending, I would just go with whatever No. 1 Tim Thomas wants. That could be something as simple as a rotation or a two-and-one share with Tuukka Rask. Up front, the Bruins could take a similar tact as I presented on D, that is if Michael Ryder still has anything to offer the team after his second healthy scratch in as many weeks. Mark Recchi, Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic could all use at least one game off.
The Bruins’ defense corps has been taxed all season long with its shot-blocking, minute-munching and fighting. At least one game off for each player back there would be well-deserved.