Down 1-0 against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien shuffled up his bottom-six forwards to try and generate some chemistry, putting together a third line of Chris Kelly centering Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin. Since then, including a 2-0 Game 3 Boston victory over Chicago, three of the four Bruins goals in Games 2 and 3 have come from the new-look third line. Something stuck, and really, it has always made sense–we’ve just never notic
With a record of 20-7-3, the Boston Bruins are currently sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the division leading Montreal Canadiens (with a game in hand), and second only to the Pittsburgh Penguins in terms of goal differential (+22.)
With only a scant 18 games left to play in a shortened season, one would think that the Bruins would be a confident bunch heading down the stretch. Below the surface, however, there is cause for concern, and the Bruins have some work to do in the last week of March to avoid going into April looking more like lambs than lions.
In the course of their 18 games played, the fewest of any team in the NHL, the Boston Bruins have found numerous ways to win. Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Tampa Bay Lightning was just another example.
Down 2-0 early in the first period after the Lightning potted two quick power play goals, a rarity against Boston, the Bruins looked like they lacked energy. A quick turnaround in the next 40-minutes bounced the Bruins back with three unanswered goals that included a late Brad Marchand goal on the power play to clinch the B’s sixth straight win and the 3-2 victory.
There were several reasons why Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli re-signed Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton to new contracts before his fourth-line trio hit free agency this past season. On Friday night, it seemed like almost each of those reasons were on full display.
The Bruins skated to a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Friday night at the TD Garden, largely in part to the effort put forward by the team’s Merlot line.
On Thursday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman explained that the league and its owners would be prepared to lockout its players if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement wasn’t settled upon by September 15. Considering just how far apart the two sides are currently, it seems likely that a lockout—yes, another one—is looming. While it may not have the same implications or length as the last NHL lockout during the 2004-05 season, the effects could still be devastating…at least for the most part.
It’s not farfetched to believe that teams will suffer if there is a shortened NHL season, but could there be some teams that would benefit from one? Possibly—and the Boston Bruins might be one of those teams.