BOSTON — When Joe Corvo started his Bruins tenure with just three points and a minus-6 rating through his first 11 games, it would’ve been easy to label him as Tomas Kaberle, Part 2 — another offensive defenseman who, for whatever reason, just wasn’t going to pan out as a Bruin.
After Corvo’s last three games, though, it’s safe to say no one is doing that now. The veteran blue-liner has registered four assists and a plus-7 rating in the Bruins’ recent wins over the Maple Leafs, Islanders and Oilers. Perhaps most impressively, he has been on the ice for 12 of the Bruins’ 19 goals during that span.
“I’ve been kind of feeling it the last three games, like something was going to happen,” Corvo said after tallying three assists in Thursday night’s 6-3 win over Edmonton. “I think I’ve been feeling a lot more calm out there and making things happen. I was just waiting for that big night to happen, and it was tonight.”
On Thursday, each of Corvo’s assists showcased a different way he can contribute to the offense. His first helper came on the power play when Brad Marchand tipped home his wrister from center point.
During his slow start, Corvo struggled to get shots through, especially on the power play. But he has done a much better job of that recently. Normally when you see a defenseman get more shots on net, the reason for it is something along the lines of moving your feet more or getting shots off quicker. Corvo’s explanation for his improvement, though, wasn’t either of those.
“I give all the credit to Johnny [Boychuk],” Corvo said. “He let me use one of his sticks, and it’s a lot stiffer. I just feel a lot better with it. Just getting my head up more, and I see the holes. And just getting it on net.”
Corvo’s second assist came when he corralled a weak dump-in and caught Edmonton in a line change with a quick up-ice feed to Tyler Seguin, who wound up scoring on a shot that pinballed off the end boards and three Oilers before finally bouncing into the net.
Late in the third, Corvo picked up his second power-play assist of the night. This time, he vacated his usual spot up along the blue line and made something happen by dropping below the right faceoff dot. He faked a shot before threading a pass across the crease to Milan Lucic for an easy tap-in.
Creating one goal with a shot from the point. Creating another with a nice pass from his own end. Creating a third by dropping down low in the offensive zone. Sure sounds like an effective offensive defenseman.
“He’s getting more comfortable,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He’s understanding our system better — not that he didn’t at the beginning, but you’ve got to kind of go into a game and you can’t be thinking about everything you’re doing out there. It’s got to be done instinctively, and that’s what he’s starting to do now. He’s just reacting to a situation instead of over-thinking it.”
If Corvo stays comfortable and continues performing close to the level he has for the last few games, he’ll keep making Bruins fans forget about the Kaberle experiment, rather than remind them of it.
As Julien put it, “I think we’re starting to see the Joe Corvo we knew we were getting when we got him this summer.”