The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.
BOSTON -- Connor Clifton isn't just a hockey player. He plays one on TV, too.
Clifton, 23, is one of the defensemen the Bruins have had to summon from AHL Providence to help fill multiple holes on their blue line. Saturday night's game against the Canadiens was his fifth in the NHL in less than a week.
To say he hasn't had much time to process so many recent events would be an understatement, and maybe also a good thing.
"It was an emergency, such a quick turnaround," said Clifton, who was recalled on Nov. 15 -- the day after captain Zdeno Chara (knee) and fellow defenseman John Moore (lower body) got hurt in a 6-3 loss at Colorado. "I didn't really have time to get nervous or anything."
An undrafted free agent who spent last season on an AHL contract at Providence, Clifton qualifies as a bit of a long shot to reach the NHL, especially in only his second pro season. (He signed a a two-year, two-way NHL/AHL deal on May 3.) He admits he was a little uncertain about how things would go for him at the NHL level.
"You watch the NHL on TV, but you really don't know what to expect until you get into a game," he said. "Then, it's like 'Wow, I can play here.' That gives you some confidence, and then you can settle in and just play."
Clifton, who played four years at Quinnipiac University before landing in the Bruins' organization, performed well enough over games at Dallas, Arizona and Detroit (plus-2, averaging 19:51 minutes per night) to hold his place in the lineup on Friday, when Moore returned. The Bruins scratched Steven Kampfer, who has 180 NHL games on his resume.
"Clifford's a little more competitive," B's head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder, who traded slashes and then fought Stars veteran Jason Spezza in his NHL debut on Nov. 16. "He hasn't been afraid of the limelight, hasn't been afraid to match up against bigger bodies."