Bruins third line faces a challenge in Montreal


Bruins third line faces a challenge in Montreal

MONTREAL Chris Bourque is clearly hoping he and his third line teammates can build off the game-winning goal they scored against the Maple Leafs last weekend.

It was Bourques first goal of the season and the first meaningful contribution that Bourque, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley have made to the Bruins young season after a sluggish start. Peverley and Kelly had been slowly building to that over the previous few games, and Bourque made his splash after returning from a one-game sentence as a healthy scratch.

The trio is obviously hoping to keep the offensive train moving forward, but theyll also inherit some defensive responsibilities against a Montreal team that boasts more depth than they have in quite some time. The emergence of rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher on the Habs third line along with rugged big body Brandon Prust gives Montreal some Bruins-like depth up front.

Galchenyuk leads all Montreal forwards with six assists and Gallagher is a team-best plus-six on the season, and theyve given Montreal an infusion of youth and excitement similar to the ones Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton have provided over the last few years.

Thats the kind of defensive challenge the Bs third line will meet if it develops as it did against the forward line of Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin and Leo Komarov in slim victory over the Leafs. Granted names like Prust and Galchenyuk automatically make the Montreal line a little more lethal, but Bourque and Co. have their minds right in the confidence department heading into the battle for first place.

Last game we went up against a pretty hot line with the Nazem Kadri line in Toronto and we did a solid job against them, said Bourque. We should be able to do the same against these guys. Theyre putting up some good numbers and theyve had some early success, so hopefully we can keep it in their end and play offense.

Theyve got a lot of small, crafty forwards with good speed, so we need to back-check to slow them down a little bit.

The match-up illustrated one very tangible side effect of the fourth-line injuries to Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille: The Bs third line has to shoulder a bigger burden at both ends of the ice with a trio of unproven rookies on the fourth line unlikely to garner much more than 5-10 minutes of ice time at the most.

That means the third line performances could go a long way toward determining the winner and loser on rivalry night at the Bell Centre.

Saturday, Oct. 22: Coyotes' growing pains


Saturday, Oct. 22: Coyotes' growing pains

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while suffering from the same “general soreness” as Tuukka Rask.

*The Arizona Coyotes are suffering from growing pains that were extremely evident during a winless road trip.

*Steve Dangle is obviously jacked and pumped about his Maple Leafs, but wondering about the future of Roman Polak. But aren’t we all at this point?

*Old friends Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg both scored the victorious Islanders in a Friday night win.

*Clarke MacArthur isn’t ready to retire even as concussion issues are really starting to impact his ability to stay on the ice.

*Teemu Selanne gives fellow Finn Patrick Laine a thumbs up as he was in town for events with his former Winnipeg Jets.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details on noted Bruins killer Dale Weise getting suspended for three games after some dirty activity with the Philadelphia Flyers.

*For something completely different: Geoff Edgers has been trying to reach Bill Murray for weeks, and here’s what happened when he finally called back.


Bruins looking for a lift from stagnant power play


Bruins looking for a lift from stagnant power play

BRIGHTON, Mass. – One area where the Bruins are looking for more after a mostly positive first four regular-season games: the power play.

The B’s are a downright gross 1-for-14 on the man-advantage to start the season and were 0-for-4 on Thursday night while squeaking out a last-minute win over the New Jersey Devils. The early-season 7.1 percent success rate doesn’t have them last in the NHL, but only the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have performed at a lower PP clip.

It’s a subject that Claude Julien knew was coming from the B’s media, and so he was ready to answer for it ahead of Saturday night’s rivalry renewal with the Montreal Canadiens.

“I knew it was just a matter of time before that question came. It is what it is. I think we had some opportunities, but we haven’t finished,” said Julien. “At the end of the day our power play is judged by whether you score or not, and I thought our second period [vs. the Devils] wasn’t great. But our third period had some really good power plays, but we didn’t manage to score.

“Where we need to get to right now [on the power play], is to find a way to finish. There’s no doubt the absence of Patrice Bergeron there brings somebody else in, and maybe there’s not as much chemistry as we’re used to. But I think with him back now we can even be better, and get a little more movement…not be so stagnant. When we struggle a bit it’s because we’re a little stagnant, and we need to get a little better there.”

Quite a bit of the struggles go back to Bergeron missing the first three games of the season and the top power-play unit missing No. 37 from his trademark bumper role at the center of the PP action. The power play remained scoreless as the unit adjusted to Bergeron's return on Thursday night, but it seemed that things started to click a little bit as that game went on.

“It’s not moving right now. We’ll just work through it. There were times last year where it let us down, and there were times last year where it helped us through some tough moments,” said Torey Krug of the PP. “Right now we’re able to play through it, but at some point this team is going to need this PP to step up and score some goals. We rely on that, and the guys on the power play take a lot of pride in it.

“[Bergeron] does a lot of things for us. Instead of me having to go all the way to the other end to break the puck out where I’m losing 20 seconds and frankly it’s tiring to break the puck out, now we have him winning face-offs and we’re starting with the puck in the zone. That’s a big thing, and he collects puck like nobody else in the league. With him back on the power play it brings another important player to the forefront, but it’s a five man unit and when everything’s working out there [on the PP] we have a good unit.”

Now with Ryan Spooner expected to rejoin the B’s lineup, after being healthy scratch vs. New Jersey, that adds another dangerous power-play weapon that practiced with that unit on Saturday morning ahead of the traditional morning skate. The hope is that installing Bergeron and Spooner will help kick-start a special teams unit that’s been less than explosive, and not quite cohesive, in the first four games of the season.