There is no positive to Dougie Hamilton being out of the lineup. He is too good and the Bruins’ situation is too dire. It could be the injury that finally does them in.
Yet with Hamilton out for a number of weeks (and most likely the rest of the regular season unless he’s rushed back from his upper-body injury), the Bruins must make one last push for a playoff spot with their back end depleted.
Injuries to Hamilton and Kevan Miller (out for the season after getting shoulder surgery last month) meant that Adam McQuaid was Boston’s only right-shot defenseman left. As such, the Bruins opted for the right-shooting Zach Trotman over the left-shooting Joe Morrow when they made the call to Providence for a replacement.
The call was familiar for Trotman, who had already played 17 games this season (Sunday’s loss to the Lightning made it 18). In fact, Trotman said that given all of Boston’s injuries this season, feeling in Providence has been different from years past. To this point, the Bruins’ number of callups has hit the 30s.
‘Going into weekends, you never know who’s going to be there when the weekend starts and who’s going to be there when the weekend ends,’ Trotman said of the vibe around the Baby B’s.
While the margin for error is extremely slim during this recall, this situation isn’t completely new to Trotman. After all, he was in the Bruins’ lineup for the team’s 1-2-4 stretch in early December, so getting into games when wins are of the utmost importance shouldn’t be a major development.
“It’s a little familiar, but now it’s definitely a lot more into crunch time,” Trotman said Thursday. “It’s a lot more serious now. That’s really all there is to it.”
Trotman has been skating on a third pairing with Matt Bartkowski the last three days after seeing time mostly with Zdeno Chara against the Lightning. The Bartkowski-Trotman pairing means that usual No. 5/6 Torey Krug is being elevated to a second pairing.
Claude Julien hasn’t been afraid to tinker with his lineup this season, however, and with every game a must-win down the stretch, tinker he will. Whatever the number of shifts with whomever, Trotman thinks he’ll be able to handle it.
“I’ve played with Bart many times before,” he said. “I played with Seids quite a bit when I was up last time. Krug a little bit. I played with Zee some last game, and I’ve played with him in training camp before. I’m pretty comfortable with everyone right now.”
Trotman is big, strong and responsible, but he doesn’t bring the skill-set that Hamilton brings. The team doesn’t expect him to replace Hamilton, who is easily Boston’s second-best defenseman and the team’s second leader in points in this season.
What they do expect is for him to be a serviceable third-pairing player on a backend that needs to be solid enough to get the Bruins into the playoffs.
“We realize we have to get things done now,’ Trotman said. “It’s a backs-in-the-corner kind of deal. It’s a tougher situation than normal maybe to come up in, but I’m just trying to do my part, play my game, be simple, play hard and try to help the team win as many games as possible here.”