Bruins' Jeremy Lauzon ejected for hit on Coyotes' Derek Stepan

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Bruins' Jeremy Lauzon ejected for hit on Coyotes' Derek Stepan

BOSTON — The Bruins might be lacking depth on the blue line for a few games, after defenseman Jeremy Lauzon was ejected from Saturday’s game with the Arizona Coyotes for a check to the head.

Lauzon had just exited the penalty box in the first period when he threw a hit on Derek Stepan at the side boards following a missed shot on the Arizona net. Lauzon caught Stepan’s chin with an extended right arm, after initially hitting him in the chest area. He got a five-minute major match penalty that ejected him from the game.

Stepan appeared shaken up at the time of the hit, but returned to the game for the Coyotes in the second period of play.

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A match penalty comes with an automatic suspension, pending a review from the league. That means Lauzon could be facing additional discipline.

The Bruins were already shorthanded on Saturday. Brandon Carlo missed the game to attend to “family matters” at home in Colorado, but should re-join the team in Detroit for Sunday's game versus the Red Wings. John Moore played in place of Carlo in the lineup. Now, the Bruins will have to play the final two periods with five defensemen in the first game of a back-to-back situation.

The hard-hitting 22-year-old Lauzon has two goals in 23 games in his NHL career, and one goal in seven games this season. He doesn’t have any previous run-ins with the NHL's Department of Player Safety in his pro career. While the hit certainly didn't seem vicious or particularly predatory, Lauzon made heavy contact with Stepan's chin on the follow-through to the initial contact. One saving grace for Lauzon is that Stepan wasn't injured on the play, and that the NHL tends to view a first-period ejection as significant when deciding whether or not to pursue supplementary discipline.

Who are the best goalies in Bruins history? Ranking the Top 10

Who are the best goalies in Bruins history? Ranking the Top 10

As with the Top 10 all-time list of Bruins defensemen, the list of all-time Bruins goalies is rich with elite performers, Hall of Fame players and Stanley Cup winners.

Some like Tim Thomas and Byron Dafoe had all-too-brief stays in Boston while others like Tiny Thompson and Frank Brimsek are known as some of the best to ever play the position.

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Others like Gerry Cheevers were iconic for both their personalities and the Stanley Cup wins on their résumés as well. Interestingly, there is also Tuukka Rask with a growing, impressive list of career numbers and accomplishments with the Black and Gold during his 10-plus years in the Original Six organization.

Here is the all-time Top 10 list of Bruins goalies.

Patrice Bergeron admits 'it's hard' not knowing if Stanley Cup playoffs will happen

Patrice Bergeron admits 'it's hard' not knowing if Stanley Cup playoffs will happen

The Boston Bruins' window to win a Stanley Cup is the near future.

Many of the team's best players are approaching the end of their primes, including Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and others. Brad Marchand also is 31 years old. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (33) and Jaroslav Halak (34) have played a ton of games in their careers. B's captain and defenseman Zdeno Chara remains a very effective player, but he's 43 years old.

The Bruins aren't likely to have a ton more opportunities to win a championship with their veteran core.

Boston currently sits atop the NHL standings and ranks among the top contenders for the Stanley Cup. However, it's uncertain if the Bruins will get a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup in 2020. The NHL a few weeks ago made the smart decision to pause the season amid the outbreak of the coronavirus. It was a necessary move to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. The league on Wednesday announced the postponement of the 2020 NHL Draft, 2020 NHL Scouting Combine and 2020 NHL Awards.

The whole situation is further proof that there are more important things in life than playing sports. Still, it's tough for players in Bergeron's position who might not get too many more cracks at playoff glory. He addressed the scenario in a recent conversation with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

“I think as you get older you realize that you need to make the most of every opportunity since they might not come by often," Bergeron said. "That being said, this is out of our control. What should be on our minds right now is everyone’s safety. Still, it is hard knowing that we have a great team, not certain if there will be a playoff and a Stanley Cup to compete for.”

The league seems determined to finish the season when/if appropriate. Here's what commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this month:

If the 2019-20 season does resume, it's unclear what format will be used. It's possible a few regular season games could be played to finish out the playoff race. Maybe the league would go straight to the playoffs and perhaps expand the tournament to allow teams close to a playoff spot to participate. It's hard to predict what will happen because there's no precedent for this scenario.

What we do know is that if the season returns, the Bruins will be well-rested and highly motivated to give another strong push for the Stanley Cup, and Bergeron will be among the players leading that charge.

Haggerty: Tuukka retirement talk makes sense; here's why