Bruins hoping Liles can bolster blue line for playoff run
So we’d be remiss not to write something about John-Michael Liles, and what he could possibly do for the Boston Bruins.
In case you missed it, the B’s picked up Liles from Carolina at the trade deadline, in return for prospect Anthony Camara, a third-round draft pick in 2016 and a fifth-round pick in 2017. A veteran defenseman with almost 800 NHL games of experience, Liles is 35 and in the final year of his contract.
In other words, this was not a move for the future. Liles was added, along with pending UFA forward Lee Stempniak, to help the B’s in the upcoming playoffs.
“I’ve seen him for a long time,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Liles, per The Fourth Period. “He’s been in the league for quite a few years so nothing has really surprised me from him. We’re looking for that puck-moving part from our back end, having a good balance of guys that can defend well and having guys that can move the puck well and he’s brought that element to our hockey team.”
Last night, Liles logged 22:37 of ice time in Boston’s 5-4 OT defeat of the Panthers. Only Zdeno Chara (25:18) and Torey Krug (23:04) played more for the B’s.
Liles also registered an assist on Stempniak’s winner in three-on-three.
Now, granted, GM Don Sweeney could live to regret his actions at the trade deadline, which included not trading pending UFA winger Loui Eriksson.
But for the Bruins to make a playoff run, Sweeney obviously felt his much-maligned blue line needed an upgrade.
“He’s not what I call a prototypical shutdown defenseman, but if you spend less time in your own end you don’t have to defend,” said Sweeney, per the Bruins’ website. “I think we will have the ability to have a guy with experience that can move the puck and complement, again, some of the hard and heavy guys that we have and go in and play an important role going forward.”
For Boston, the future of the defense remains very much in doubt. Chara is 38; Dennis Seidenberg is 34; and even Jack Edwards can admit “there’s no alpha dog on the way.”
You know the saying, though.
“Once you’re in the playoffs,” said Liles, “anything can happen, and that’s what it’s about.”