SCOC Rating: 6.7
Reader Rating: 6.6
Once again, my memories of the 2021 season differ from reality.
Looking back at last season, I thought Connor Clifton had probably appeared in less than half of the Bruins’ games, mainly in a fill-in/shake-things-up role.
Instead, Clifton actually appeared in 79% of the B’s games. Go figure.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course — generally, if you don’t have memories of a defenseman burned into your memory, it means they probably did a decent enough job.
After all, you generally don’t want to be super noticeable as a defenseman: under the radar works just fine.
For Clifton, that’s probably the best way to describe his performance: he did fine, perhaps a little bit better than expected.
Clifton’s 44 regular season games played was the highest mark of his NHL career, nearly as many as the two prior seasons combined.
Largely used on the third pairing, Clifton became a pretty important contributor for the B’s after they experienced a rash of injuries on the blue line.
It certainly helped that the Bruins had a reliable presence in Clifton ready to fill in, and ultimately take on a pretty regular role.
Clifton continued to play the brand of hockey that earned him many admirers among the fan base, namely the borderline chaotic, throwing himself around brand.
He rarely had a boring game, that’s for sure: in his 44 regular season appearances, Clifton was credited with 103 attempted shots and 108 hits.
His 18:13 ATOI was nearly four full minutes higher than his average from the previous season, a sign of the increased role Clifton was asked to take at times.
Frankly, Clifton is a guy many NHL teams would like to have in the fold.
He can play in a few different slots, is under contract for $1 million, and can, at times, bring an element of game-changing energy or offense to the mix.
With Jeremy Lauzon in Seattle, Kevan Miller retiring, and guys like Jarred Tinordi and Steven Kampfer headed elsewhere, it’s reasonable to assume that Clifton will have a pretty regular role again this season.
He played well and experienced some growth in his game last season. Let’s hope he can take another step forward in 2021-2022.