The Bruins got little production from their third line last season. From Chris Bourque to Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly to Jordan Caron, no one produced. In fact, it was only when the Bruins promoted “fourth liner” Dan Paille, and acquired Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr that the line showed any signs of life- and still, it wasn’t much.
The team expected to open the season with Carl Soderberg on the wing paired with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith, but a sprained ankle suffered in their last preseason game has kept the Swede out of the lineup.
Instead, highly criticized first round pick Jordan Caron takes his place.
Caron, who is undeniably approaching bust territory, showed spurts of life in Thursday’s season opener, playing with more aggression and showing signs of improved skating.
“Well, I think it’s been pretty good,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien when asked about his third line play. “Reilly’s (Smith) still a young player and so is Jordan (Caron). We’re forgetting that those guys are 23-years old….They have to be able to create some stuff, some scoring opportunities; which is what we talked about last year about trying to find with our third line.”
The hope is to have Soderberg- a big body who has no problem driving to and standing in front of the net- give that line an offensive boost. His 2013-2014 debut is on hold though.
Torey Krug got the Bruins on the board first in Saturday’s game scoring a power play goal. With Zdeno Chara parked in front of Jimmy Howard, Krug blasted a slap shot into the net. The rookie could be a force on the power play this year for the Bruins.
The Red Wings tied things up after burying the Bruins in their own zone, and Henrik Zetterberg jumped all over a rebound beating Tuukka Rask glove-side high; rough shift for the new-look second line of the Bruins.
The game was tied at one after one period of play.
Brad Marchand helped the Bruins regain the lead just one minute into the second period, when he flew up the wing and roofed a wicked wrist shot past Jimmy Howard; a textbook Marchand goal as he continually shows off his wicked release, while Patrice Bergeron cleared space driving towards the net.
7:92 into the second period the Bruins third line got their first even strength goal of the season. A deflected Adam McQuaid shot jumped off Howard right to Smith, who showed tremendous patience in front of the net, pausing then sliding a nifty backhanded pass to Caron who scored the goal. It was the first goal of the season for Caron, assisted by Smith and Adam McQuaid. The assist was Smith’s first point as a Bruin.
The third line continued their good play from the season opener, creating a number of scoring chances, and playing strong, smart defensive hockey overall. Already, only two games into the season, its hard not to feel much better about where this line stands compared to last season.
Smith, who’s only 23-years old, has a strong hockey IQ and its shown on the ice. He plays well around the boards, keeps his position, and does all the little things right-and you know the Bruins coaching staff loves seeing that.
Caron also likes what he’s seen out of his linemates.
“Yeah, I think at that point we have so many good players you get used to playing with everybody,” he said postgame. “It doesn’t matter with who you play, you get used to it pretty quick. And they are two really smart players and right now I think our biggest thing is we’re really good on forechecks and second pucks so we just have to keep doing this.”
If Caron, Kelly and Smith can keep up their strong play it’ll make for an interesting decision once Soderberg returns. The Bruins defeated the Red Wings 4-1 to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
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