BOSTON -- While theres plenty to like about Bostons 3-0-1 start in their first four games, it hasnt been highlight reel goals and on-ice celebrations for everybody.
The Bruins third line is off to the slowest start of any of Bostons forward groups, and registered only a single shot on net in an ineffective performance for the Bs in their 4-2 win over the Isles at TD Garden.
Chris Bourque, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly have combined for two points, no goals and a minus-8 rating in the first four games of the season, and have been bailed out by the strong starts of some of their teammates.
Its perhaps not surprising given that Bourque is the only new forward thats been added to an already established group of 11 forwards, and that means adjusting to a player with different strengths and weaknesses than Jordan Caron or Benoit Pouliot. It's also worth nothing that the third line is still minding their responsibility defensively, which is job No. 1 for the trio.
For a guy like Kelly remaining defensively vigilant is job No. 1 for their line, but the Isles did manage to score a goal while their line was on the ice Friday night. Johnny Boychuk was largely responsible after losing track of the man with the puck behind the net, but a minus-2 rating for the season doesn't lie for a guy in Kelly that was a plus-33 last season.
I think were still working on it, said Kelly. I think every line is still working on it. Just when you think youve got it all figured out then youre in trouble. When youre playing with new linemates you want to go out there and start producing immediately with instant chemistry.
Sometimes that doesnt happen. In fact most times that doesnt happen. But I think weve been solid in our end and there have been a few chances. The offense will come if we stick with the game plan. Were a defense first team.
While Claude Julien thought Friday night was Bourques best game in a Bruins uniform, there was a clear admission that the line as a whole isnt playing at quite the level where theyll end up.
Its hard to make assessments because were in the fourth game of the season. I watch some games on TV, and you know I could be a lot more disappointed in situations Ive seen from other teams around the league, said Julien. But were hanging in there. We know its just a matter of time for certain guys to turn it around.
I think weve got enough players here to score some goals that are going to make us a better team along the way. When you look at Tyler Seguin, whos got zero goals, we know hes going to start scoring a lot more. Horts Nathan Horton and Peverleythose guys, theyll get it going. Youve just got to maybe show a little patience as far as the finishing touch is concerned. But as long as they work hard and are progressing you keep pushing them in the right direction.
Peverley hit the left post in the third period and seemed to get better as the game went along. Bourque showed some good things while moving around with purpose and creativity on the second power play unit and erased some Isles chances -- one in particular on Keith Aucoin when he was about to pounce on a rebound in the slot -- with responsible back-checking.
But its little more than flashes at this point for a third line still looking to find their footing this season while the other three lines seem to have the ground running.