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.
The Bruins have locked up a potential fourth-line piece for next season at a bargain basement price.
The B's signed Rhode Island native and Providence College alum Noel Acciari, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal worth $1.45 million, a contract that breaks down to a very affordable $725,000 cap hit for each of the next two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound bowling ball of a forward finished with two goals and five points in 29 games for the Bruins last season, and has appeared in 48 games at the NHL level over the last two seasons in Boston. It was also encouraging that Acciari seemed to be tapping a bit more into his offense toward the end of the season, and was building some confidence for whatever modest offense he’ll end up bringing to the NHL table once he’s reached his potential ceiling as a player.
Clearly the two-year, one-way deal portends that Acciari, 25, will be counted on as a high energy, hard-hitting fourth-line player who does a good job of aggravating opponents while playing at full tilt. The real question is whether his body can hold up with his maximum effort style of playing, and whether he can avoid serious injuries with some of the car-crash level of violence he puts in his hitting.
Acciari has battled several different injuries over the last couple of seasons, but managed to be healthy enough to log time in the playoffs for both Boston and the P-Bruins.
Either way it’s a low-risk, affordable contract for the Bruins for a young player who, if healthy, will be a large piece on their fourth line as a diligent worker and excellent teammate. So that’s a good proactive signing for Don Sweeney as he continues to work on a more complicated contract for a higher profile player like David Pastrnak.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready to check out GLOW on Netflix.
*This video of a Vancouver Canucks draft pick tearing up while watching the video of his brother celebrating him getting picked is all that is right with the NHL Draft.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has Avs first-round pick Cale Makar talking about his hockey background, and why it doesn’t matter.
*The Calgary Flames are excited about their prospects and the pieces they were able to acquire last weekend.
*The Washington Capitals have re-signed Brett Connolly for a couple of years at short money and he appears to have found a home in DC.
*The Chicago Blackhawks are still in talks with Marian Hossa about how to resolve his contract and the allergic skin condition that might have prematurely ended his hockey career.
*Will the Tampa Bay sports go through a dry spell when it comes to Hall of Fame athletes now that former Lighting forward Dave Andreychuk has been called to the Hockey Hall?
*It looks like young Pierre Luc Dubois will be put in a position to contribute with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.
*Alex Prewitt has a preview of the NHL free agency period and the stress levels that many players go through in it.
*For something completely different: This video of Drake and Will Ferrell hoop handshakes was pretty solid, and funny.