Matt Grzelcyk, the Bruins’ No. 1 point man this season in their life after Torey Krug, had to sit out Saturday’s 6-1 win over the Flyers at TD Garden with Philadelphia after getting dinged up in back-to-back games vs. the Islanders and Flyers.
Connor Clifton, the former Quinnipiac back liner, started the night on a No. 2 pairing with Brandon Carlo.
Charlie McAvoy, who has been manning the point as Grzelcyk’s relief man, was the designated No. 1 power-play quarterback, with help back there from David Krejci. Jakub Zboril came in for the second unit, supporting a four-forward attack that included Jack Studnicka, Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle, and Craig Smith.
“Yep, Charlie will be out there,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, making his first sub on the defensive corps this season. “On the second unit, Zboril will [be out there], and we’ll either use four forwards or we’ll put [another D out], depending how much time is left — and we’ll go from there.”
Grzelcyk, second only to Patrice Bergeron in shots on goal, took an awkward fall and appeared to wrench his left shoulder late in the third period Monday at Long Island.
On Thursday, he was drilled into the rear boards by the Flyers’ Scott Laughton and did not skate in the five-minute overtime, after which Cassidy told the media he hoped the injury was nothing serious.
The only guidance Cassidy offered Saturday, following the morning workout in Brighton, was that Grzelcyk’s condition is day-to-day.
Read: No telling if he’ll be able to go Tuesday when the Penguins visit TD Garden.
As the No. 1 power-play option, McAvoy will be encouraged to shoot more, something that he has been reluctant to do from the time he arrived on Causeway Street.
McAvoy logged 20:40 in ice time, his usual team high Saturday, and fired three times during his 31 shifts. None of those attempts landed on Flyer goalie Carter Hart.
Prior to Saturday night, he landed only seven shots in his first four games this season. He is still wired as “pass-first” defenseman, a trait that serves him well, but power-play point duty often demands a “shoot-first” mentality.
“I’m sure Charlie is excited to get his opportunity there,” said Cassidy. “So we’ll see how that part goes.”
McAvoy is also a righthanded shot, a departure from the lefthanded Krug and Grzelcyk.
“The left shot’s just out of habit, for years,” noted Cassidy. “I think it’s easier to get to the middle of the ice and just pass it across your body over to [Brad Marchand near the right corner/half wall]. We like to run it to Marchy’s side.”
Clifton, a righthander, played his off-side in the pairing with the righthander Carlo. John Moore, a lefthander, might have been the more logical substitute, but Cassidy said Moore has been nursing a lower-body injury that dates to training camp. Rookie Urho Vaakanainen, available from the taxi squad, also was a candidate for Grzelcyk’s spot, but Cassidy chose the more experienced Clifton even though Vaakanainen is a lefthander.
Clifton played an error-free 18:12, including 57 seconds on the PK, and worked seamlessly with Carlo his partner all night. He also landed four hits and a few times traded aggressive stick hacks with perturbed Flyers. A solid night for Cliffy Hockey.
“We’ll try it this way,” noted Cassidy. “Then reevaluate and go from there.”
The Bruins needed until the third period Thursday night, Game 4 on the schedule, to score their first even-strength goal. A more offensively inclined McAvoy could be instrumental to bumping up the attack, be it on the power play or at even strength.
“Charlie has a little more freedom to go,” said Cassidy, who has spread the defensive shutdown duty, against top lines, more evenly through the defensive corps this season.
“I don’t think it’s been enough games to truly evaluate and say he’s much more offensive-minded or not. We haven’t been scoring. So let’s get going. Let’s get our offense humming. We want him to get up in the play. We don’t want him to end up behind the [offensive] net — that’s what you worry about.”
Halak gets win
Jaroslav Halak was in the Bruins’ net for his second start of the season, following his initial outing last Saturday, a 2-1 overtime loss in New Jersey. He had an easy night, turning back 16 of 17 Flyers shots . . . Bergeron and Marchand each landed five shots on net. Bergeron now leads all Bruins with 24 shots, 10 more than Marchand in the No. 2 spot . . . Like Grzelcyk, ex-Ducks left winger Nick Ritchie has been an active shooter (13 shots in four games) and began the night tied with Bergeron with the club lead in points (2-1—3). Ritchie has been more visible than he was immediately following his acquisition last spring and throughout play in the Toronto playoff bubble. Like virtually the entire forward corps, he needs to increase his drive and presence around the net. “It’s a second-effort league,” said Cassidy, who made clear, entering the third period Thursday, that the Bruins attack in the offensive end had been too easy to defend the first four games of the new season . . . The Bruins returned to their standard routine of working out at their practice facility on the morning of a home game. They broke form Thursday, working out in the morning at the Garden, but all morning skates the rest of the way likely will be at Warrior. Spectators remain banned at both facilities.