BOSTON – Jeremy Lauzon has been solid every time he’s been called up by the Bruins the past couple of seasons.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound defenseman is never going to be flashy, but he’s shown an ability to play strong, physical defense around the Boston net while shutting down plays and helping keep pucks out of the back of the net.
Still, the 22-year-old has also known the past few years that he’s also been ticketed to go back to Providence based on the sheer numbers on the NHL roster in Boston, where there has been quality depth on the back end.
But there was also a feeling that things might be a little different these days for Lauzon when he was called up ahead of the 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at TD Garden. He scored a goal and threw out four hits while keeping the puck out of the back of the net in 15-plus minutes of ice time, providing the hard-to-play-against minutes that weren’t prevalent enough on Boston’s back end a few days prior in Pittsburgh.
He was sent back down to Providence on Wednesday along with Karson Kuhlman and Dan Vladar to stay sharp over the 10-day All-Star break and bye week, but there’s a feeling that Lauzon could be back once the Bruins resume play.
If Kevan Miller isn’t ready to practice and potentially play when the B’s get going and John Moore remains the inconsistent player he’s been since the B's signed him as a free agent, it may be Lauzon’s turn to show what he can do at least until Connor Clifton is ready to return in the middle of the next month.
Certainly, he was happy with the way he played in Boston after showing what he could do through a solid 48 games in the AHL, where he posted a goal, 14 points and a plus-18 rating. That he was able to do it on the right side when he’s a natural left shot makes it a plus for his versatility and it's what the B’s are looking for right now.
“I felt comfortable. I knew my confidence was high from how I’ve played recently in Providence,” said Lauzon. “Even if it was [four games in five nights] for me, I came in and my body felt great. I had a good night’s sleep last night, so I was just ready to show what I can do.
“I feel way more comfortable on the ice. So, I’m just trying to bring the game I was playing down in Providence up here and I think I did a good job of that. I close hard and I’m physical, so obviously Brandon [Carlo] is a role model.”
The Bruins bottom pairing D-men have been a weak spot since Clifton went down with Matt Grzelcyk getting picked on a bit. That was less of an issue against the Golden Knights for the first time in a while. In essence, Lauzon gave the B’s what they were looking for after they blew a couple of three-goal leads within the same week.
“I thought [Lauzon] played hard, competed all over the ice. We’ve seen that before, so we expected that. [He] scores a goal — obviously, in a one-goal game, that matters. And [he] did it in the right way, didn’t overthink it. Just got it, got off the wall, make sure you pound it hard so it gets by the first layer. If it gets blocked closer to the net, at least it’s not going to be a quick transition,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We’ve been trying to instill that attitude in some of our other guys and Brandon [Carlo] gets one later and gets it through, so hopefully [that part of our game] kind of snowballs.
“But all-in-all, [we] had good composure and didn’t seem fazed by anything. We’ll always go back and look at it, there will be some details that we’ll talk about, but I liked his game. I thought he brought what we needed.”
Cassidy mentioned after the game that Lauzon, Anton Blidh and Kuhlman were all players specifically recalled to push some of the veterans on the Bruins roster, and that’s exactly what the Lauzon did in his season debut. One would expect we’ll be seeing more of Lauzon based on the way he provided the Bruins exactly what they need right now.