Bruins Defenseman Ian Mitchell Embracing Reserve Role, Stepping Up With Blue Line Injuries in contact with….

The 24-year-old defenseman is enjoying the chance to play as Charlie McAvoy and Derek Forbort tend to ailments. This was his first game in two weeks.

BRIGHTON, Massachusetts – The latest afflictions affecting the Boston Bruins’ defense corps are those of Derek Forbort (lower body) and Charlie McAvoy (upper body). The team struggles to maintain health in the back end.
Positively, it has given Mason Lohrei, Boston’s top defensive prospect, the chance to rise from AHL Providence and acquire NHL experience. However, Lohrei isn’t the only youthful defenseman drawing attention.

Although Ian Mitchell, 24, has fluctuated between Boston and Providence this season after having to step in for the injured veterans in front of him, he is now playing a more significant role for the team. Mitchell began the season as the extra defenseman.
Mitchell stated on Monday, “I’ve just been trying to stay mentally engaged.” “Obviously, it’s difficult to be out of the lineup for a while, but it gives me comfort to know that I can play aggressively and with full preparation when I do get the chance.”

In Saturday’s 5-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes, Mitchell recorded his highest-ever plus-three rating in 18:27 of play, playing with Hampus Lindholm. He hadn’t played since the Boston Red Sox’s 7-4 defeat to the New York Rangers on November 25.
Although Lindholm covered more ice and made Mitchell’s life simpler, Bruins coach Jim Montgomery appreciated Mitchell’s responsible play and puck-scoring ability.

On Monday, Mitchell worked on a pair with Matt Grzelcyk. He stated that in order to feel more at ease with rejoining the lineup, he and Lindholm have depended on each other being outspoken on the ice.
“Grizzy and I are comparable players in that we are both good skaters with strong offensive instincts and can close plays fast, so I think that’s how we complement each other well,” Mitchell said. “And with ‘Lindy,’ he kills the plays, and I think we both do well in transition, so maybe he’s the bigger guy and I’m the smaller guy.”

It’s challenging for players with less experience to regularly break into the veteran-heavy lineup with the Bruins and Rangers tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points apiece and fighting for a postseason spot. Even the 19-year-old Matt Poitras, who has participated in every game this season save one, has not received a lot of ice time lately in the third period when the club is guarding the lead.

Despite his desire to play more, Mitchell is more concerned with the team.
“This year, being a part of a winning team makes it easier to think like, ‘Well, I’m helping in some way,'” Mitchell remarked. “Whereas the club wasn’t doing well last year (with the Chicago Blackhawks), so you wanted to play more and get in more.

“But ultimately, we all want to win when the squad is performing well. Thus, the only thing we can do is play well as long as we’re winning games, regardless of who is starting for us—”Shatty” [Kevin Shattenkirk] or me. We all get along well, so we encourage one another to strive to be the best versions of ourselves.

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