Bruins' depth is being tested after Game 2 loss to Islanders

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Bean: Is depth becoming an issue for Bruins vs. Islanders? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

There was a sentiment that the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Bruins and Capitals would answer the 2021 Zdeno Chara question once and for all: Bruins win and it means they were right to bid Chara adieu. Capitals win and the B’s have egg on their face. 

That was a silly line of thinking. 

Even though Chara is now a bottom-pairing defenseman, he’s a safer option than what the Bruins have been trotting out there at points, specifically Jeremy Lauzon

The young defenseman, who started the season strong but had rocky stretches this season, is better served as a depth piece at this point. Instead, he’s skating on the left side of Boston’s third pairing and turning in costly moments.

Game 2 takeaways: Lauzon's mistake, costly penalties doom B's

This isn’t a Lauzon hit piece or anything. He’s shown promise at points and he should improve in the coming seasons. He’s just not ready for the playoffs at this point. That was hammered home with his performance Monday night, which ended with a D-to-D pass attempt in overtime that went off Charlie Coyle and set up Casey Cizikas’ game-winning breakaway goal.

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After the game, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy -- who we all know has no problem being blunt — called the pass “ill-advised.” 

Lauzon wasn’t the Bruins’ only problem defensively in Game 2. Brandon Carlo had an off-night, which wasn’t his first this postseason. Defense was going to be an issue for the Bruins at some point in the playoffs. Even with the Mike Reilly acquisition, the back end was going to be a potential weakness. It hasn’t cost them much yet, but it’s a main reason why the Bruins and Islanders are knotted at a game apiece. 

So if you’re inclined to say “Chara wouldn’t have made a difference out there,” consider that he wouldn’t have been nearly as costly as Lauzon’s been. He wouldn’t be a difference-maker, but Lauzon’s been a difference-maker in a negative way. 

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The Lauzon/Chara thing was obviously an offseason move, but other roster questions could arise. 

Having two days between Games 2 and 3 could be a blessing for the Bruins. In addition to Craig Smith being day-to-day, the extra day allows Tuukka Rask more time to rest whatever is ailing him (presumably his back).

The Islanders certainly got the better goaltending Monday, but The Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald noticed Rask playing through pain

“He finished the game, so I assume he’s OK. If he wasn’t, he would have told us — we have a very capable backup — so I assume he’s fine,” Cassidy said. “We’ll have that discussion later. We don’t play till Thursday so he’ll have time to rest if there is something going on.”

Related: Complete schedule for Bruins-Islanders series

As for Smith, the Bruins should hope for a quick return to strengthen Boston’s middle six. David Krejci was excellent Monday despite not having his usual right wing. Jake DeBrusk had moved up from the third line to Krejci’s right, which meant Karson Kuhlman entered the lineup to play with Coyle and Nick Ritchie. Though Coyle scored the game’s first goal, both Coyle and Kuhlman were on the ice for two goals against. 

The Bruins are the better team and should still win this series in five or six games, but Game 2 provided a reminder they’re imperfect just like every other team in this thing. Their depth is being tested because of both injury and their personnel decisions.