BOSTON – Stop us if you’ve heard this before.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien is looking for his third line to catch fire offensively, and start functioning up to its highest level of capability along with the other three forward lines for the Black and Gold. Rich Peverley does have a goal scored against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, but he has combined with Chris Kelly for a minus-8 rating through eight playoff games.
Kelly also has yet to get on the board offensively in eight postseason games this spring, so the hope is that pairing those two forwards with 21-year-old Tyler Seguin will spark some offense. Seguin is third among NHL players with 33 shots on goal this postseason, but like Kelly is still searching for his first goal after Dan Girardi blocked a sure goal with his shoulder in Boston’s Game 1 win on Thursday night.
With all that in mind, Julien wants to see the third line kick in a goal or two after Kelly and Peverley – able performers during Boston’s run to the Cup two years ago -- have struggled through both the regular season and the playoffs this year.
“I think if you compare it to last round where we had to rely heavily on [David] Krejci’s line, now you’ve got [Patrice] Bergeron’s line starting to score, as well. You’ve got an added threat, I guess,” said Julien. “Our fourth line continues to do a good job of fore-checking and sustaining that attack. Our third line, I’m not saying it’s an issue. But it’s probably the one, of the four, that you want to see improve the most.
“I think Peverley has been skating a lot better. That line, in and of itself, has the ability to give us some scoring opportunities, so hopefully that will come, just like the Bergeron line did.”
Kelly has managed just eight shots on goal in eight games, and Peverley has only 10 shots on net in seven playoff games this spring. Some of that was a byproduct of playing with Jaromir Jagr, who wasn't exactly spreading the puck around when skating on the right wing with them.
So the chances and shots haven’t been generated consistently as of yet, but Peverley did draw a couple of Rangers penalties in Game 1 with his skating speed. Now they simply need to start carrying their end of the bargain among the four Bruins forward lines, with the other three firing on all cylinders right now.