By waving Chris Bourque on Thursday, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli admitted the need for change. A third line with a combined rating of minus-21 won’t cut it, and while there’s no need to panic yet, especially given the team’s 14-3-3 performance, a shakeup was needed.
Coach Claude Julien spoke of the line’s slow start before Thursday’s game: “I think they’ve struggled in both ends is my assessment on that. Whether they spend more time in the offensive zone that will certainly help the defensive game, and if they score that will help their offensive game. It kind of makes sense in a way.”
Julien discussed the importance of “doing the little things right,” something the Bruins third line has performed so well in the past. “Right now, they’ve just got to go out there and play and do the things that they have to do. There’s certain things that we see from them that needs a little bit more commitment in those small areas to make it happen. That’s what we’ve been kind of showing those guys.”
The Bruins two game losing streak has also been in due part to the struggles of the their first line. David Krejci barely showed up in the game against Montreal, and Nathan Horton has struggled handling the puck recently. Milan Lucic has been a physical presence all season long, so it’s hard to nitpick his game.
While Thursday’s move might not be of the “major” variety, a shakeup is a shakeup, and it only shows Bruins players that play needs to be better; and a win against a red-hot Maple Leafs team would be a great way to get things started.
Toronto had an extended five-on-three power play midway through the first period, but effective penalty killing by the bruins forwards, paired with a huge right-pad save by Anton Khudobin kept the Leafs off the scoreboard.
Near the end of the first period, Jay Pandolfo and Rich Peverley helped put together quite possibly the best third line shift of the year for the Bruins, getting numerous shots on net and ringing iron once. Even if they don’t score, spending time in the offensive zone is certainly welcome from the struggling trio.
The Bruins made it 1-0 with under a minute left in the first on a Patrice Bergeron goal. Brad Marchand forced a Toronto turnover in the neutral zone, and it was Tyler Seguin who picked up the puck and flew to the net, Bergeron banged home the rebound for the game’s first goal.
Overall, you’d hope to see the Bruins come out with more urgency in the first period, but they picked up their play as time went on, earning themselves a 1-0 heading into the second. The third line had a successful start to the game with Pandolfo in place for Bourque.
Toronto tied things up early in the second period when Krejci turned the puck over, leading to a two-on-one rush for the Leafs. Nazem Kadri, who’s played tremendous of late, scored his 11th goal of the season assisted by Clarke MacArthur and Carl Gunnarsson.
Shortly after, “Thank-you Kessel” chants rained down from the Garden nosebleeds when Tyler Seguin scored his sixth goal of the season. Marchand and Bergeron recorded the assists, as this line continues to score points playing as the true “first line” for the Bruins.
Krejci, making up for his sub-par play to that point, added a rebound goal extending the Bruins lead to 3-1 after two periods of play.
While it’s hard to criticize a team that starts the season 14-3-3, both the third forward line and third defensive pairing are two areas of legitimate concern. Also, the play of Krejci and Horton has been suspect of late, and overlooked by many- nice to see that line produce on Thursday.
The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2, in an impressive 60-minute effort after failing to close out both the Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals.
Could more changes be on the way for Boston?
According to a report out of TSN by Darren Dreger, Carl Soderberg hopes to join the Bruins once his team (Linkoping HC) gets eliminated from the SEL (Swedish Elite League) playoffs. This could take upwards of a month and a half, but a Soderberg addition would be welcome by both the Bruins and their fans.
The skilled, former second round pick of the St. Louis Blues, sent to the Bruins in a trade for goaltender Hannu Toivenen, has tremendous talent and the size to go with it (listed at 6’3 225 lbs.) The current leading scorer of the SEL, he could certainly be the offensive force this Bruins third line needs. Keep an eye on this situation, as the Soderberg watch has become very real once again.
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