December 4, 2023


The Bruins referred to as up Lohrei primarily for his playmaking skillset, however will he defend effectively sufficient to stay round?

Mason Lohrei celebrates his first NHL objective on Nov. 6 towards Dallas. Sam Hodde/Getty Pictures

In roughly just a few weeks, the Boston Bruins could have one other robust choice on their arms, particularly on their again finish.

Frankly, they in all probability anticipated this plan of action upon Mason Lohrei’s promotion. The proficient rookie blue-liner supplied well timed offensive manufacturing over his preliminary three video games, tallying an help in his NHL debut towards the Maple Leafs final Thursday and capping off Boston’s latest two-game street journey along with his first profession objective on Monday evening in Dallas.

Lohrei arrived for his first profession NHL motion to fill in for a shorthanded defensive core. Charlie McAvoy started serving his four-game suspension, whereas Derek Forbort and Matt Grzelcyk missed time as a consequence of harm.

As a lot as Lohrei showcased his puck-moving instincts and offensive upside, the 20-year-old blue-liner encountered some defensive setbacks. He dedicated a pair of penalties in Boston’s 5-4 loss to the Crimson Wings. He additionally noticed his ice time lower after creating the turnover bug in the course of the Bruins’ 3-2 win over the Stars, together with a cough-up close to Boston’s attacking finish that ultimately led to Wyatt Johnston’s second-period marker.

Maybe Lohrei tried to overcompensate with three dependable blue-liners out of the lineup. However Jim Montgomery didn’t wish to use Lohrei’s benching in Dallas as a punishment. As a substitute, the second-year Boston bench boss needed his rookie defenseman to pay attention and study.

“What we needed him to study is that it’s 2-0. We’re in command of the sport, and we’ve accomplished rather well within the first 4 or 5 minutes of the [second],” Montgomery defined. “It’s about studying to handle the sport. You’re on the street taking part in a superb staff, and you’ll’t take these probabilities on the offensive blue line. You don’t have to. We are able to put on them out in the back of the online and make them come 200 toes.”

Even after his productive efficiency at coaching camp, the Bruins threw Lohrei into motion a bit of sooner than anticipated. However they don’t need the previous Ohio State Buckeye to deviate from his playmaking strengths whereas studying on the fly.

And he’ll acquire extra insider data within the coming days with McAvoy’s suspension nearing its finish and Forbort on the cusp of returning.

“When you have area, you make performs. We don’t wish to take something away from his god-given capability to make performs as a result of he has that god-given capability,” Montgomery added of Lohrei.

“I believe that’s simply a part of the educational curve. We don’t wish to take away from a younger man’s capability to make performs.”

The Bruins referred to as up Lohrei primarily for his playmaking skillset. He’ll proceed fine-tuning his strengths whereas engaged on his defensive improvement, hoping to spherical out right into a dependable two-way defenseman.

Whether or not Lohrei will proceed creating with the massive membership or at Windfall will develop into a hotly debated matter as soon as the Bruins activate Grzelcyk from long-term injured reserve.

On the one hand, the Bruins can profit from giving Lohrei an prolonged run subsequent to Brandon Carlo on Boston’s second pair. The 2 developed fairly good chemistry with each other via coaching camp and the final three video games.

Previously, Carlo’s stay-at-home prowess complemented the extra offensive-minded blue-liners he paired with, together with Grzelcyk and Torey Krug. However Lohrei’s 6-foot-4 body and puck-moving traits present the Bruins with a distinct dynamic on their second pair.

Maybe Montgomery and the teaching workers will wish to see Lohrei with McAvoy when the latter returns to Boston’s lineup on Saturday evening in Montreal. The Lohrei-McAvoy pairing would supply extra stability on Boston’s again finish, thus transferring Hampus Lindholm again on the second duo with the defensively dependable Carlo.

Lohrei’s standing in Boston will develop into extra sophisticated — maybe round Thanksgiving — upon Grzelcyk’s return. For one, Grzelcyk’s reliability in 5v5 conditions makes him a keeper on Boston’s high two pairings. The Bruins have been outscored 3-2 throughout Lohrei’s 49:10 time on ice in full-strength eventualities, with Boston’s opponents holding a major edge in shot makes an attempt (59-40) and photographs on objective (32-22).

After all, Lohrei could have extra probabilities to enhance his 5v5 stats. Even so, discovering a match for Lohrei gained’t come simple as soon as the Bruins have their full complement of left-shot defensemen (Grzelcyk, Lindholm and Forbort).

Grzelcyk and McAvoy shaped one of many league’s high 5v5 pairings via the higher a part of the final three seasons.

Lindholm’s struggles from final 12 months’s first-round collection towards Florida carried over into October. However the Swede has began to return to his pre-foot harm kind as of late, logging heavy and dependable minutes in shutdown and particular groups conditions over the past week. Lindholm will seemingly return to a second pair function with Carlo.

Whereas not possessing the identical offensive upside as Lohrei, Forbort’s spectacular work on the penalty kill makes him a keeper on Boston’s third pair. With out Forbort, Boston’s chief in common shorthanded time-on-ice (4:19 per sport), the Bruins allowed a pair of energy play tallies towards Detroit.

The numbers sport could ship Lohrei again to Windfall. But, he can proceed progressing in a top-pairing function, the place he’ll encounter extra minutes in particular groups and crunch-time conditions.

Conversely, the Bruins may use Lohrei’s offensive instincts in Boston. He’s an asset within the transition sport, offering well timed outlet feeds out of the defensive finish to create odd-man rushes and intensive shifts within the attacking zone. Given the goal-scoring dropoff within the first 12 months of the post-Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci period, the Bruins might want Lohrei to stay in Boston to proceed his two-way improvement.

Both approach, Lohrei is in a win/win scenario. And even with some hiccups throughout his first callup, he’s inching nearer towards a full-time function with the massive membership.