BOSTON – One of the bright spots for the Bruins from Friday night’s Game 1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings was clearly the play of their patchwork third line against some very good bottom six forwards for the Winged Wheels.
Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg and Justin Florek combined for seven shots on net, and had a couple of the best scoring chances for the Bruins in a game where Grade A opportunities weren’t exactly plentiful. That was almost twice as much shot production as Boston’s top forward line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla, and probably twice as many scoring chances as the other three lines.
“I think your third and fourth lines play against other third and fourth lines, so that doesn’t mean that the other lines aren’t trying. [The top lines] are playing against better lines, so that is a little bit tough,” said Claude Julien. “But in my mind our third line had more scoring chances than our top two. So we have to find a way to get our top two lines to get better scoring chances. I’m sure that they are probably looking at the same situation from their end.”
But that also means Julien is fairly satisfied with what he witnessed from a third line that’s made a huge impact this season.
Both of Jimmy Howard’s best saves in the game arrived in the third period, and the first was against Soderberg right in front of the net in a mad skirmish during Boston’s only power play possession. The Wings netminder managed to keep the puck out of the net, but the Big Swede did everything but score while trying to force the puck in at the goal-mouth.
The rookie, Florek, actually had the other high caliber scoring chance earlier in the game, but fired high and wide on a clear shot from the slot. NESN’s Jack Edwards said that Florek “dented the end boards” on a powerful shot, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to will it between the pipes. The third liners were clearly enthused with a good start in Game 1, but they all know that tangible production is better than unfinished chances around the net.
“We had a pretty good forecheck in the first period, and we had a lot of chances. But we didn’t score,” said Soderberg, who finished the season on a mad offensive tear that started right before the Olympic break. “We’ll bring the good stuff from [Game 1] and we’ll try to create some more chances tomorrow. The end result is that we’re looking to score some goals.”
It’s pretty simple. The Big Swede is hungry for some goals, and a hungry Soderberg could be quite a handful for Detroit’s third pairing defensemen with Eriksson and Florek also off to a good start one game into Boston’s playoff run.