B's third line chipping in nicely

B's third line chipping in nicely
March 1, 2014, 11:45 am
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BOSTON – The Boston Bruins had to like what they saw out of their third line in the first game back from the Olympic break.

Chris Kelly scored his fifth goal of the season, Loui Eriksson generated a team-high seven shots on net and Carl Soderberg continued his run of strong play since moving to his natural center spot in the middle of the ice.

“In terms of linemates, it was a juggling act for a little bit. I thought we started to form some chemistry prior to the Olympic break,” said Kelly. “Loui played really well at the Olympics, and Carl is getting better and better every game. It’ll be great forming better chemistry with those guys. I just need to brush up on my Swedish.”

The Bruins head into the March 5 trade deadline looking primarily for a defenseman rather than a forward, and one big reason for that is the strong play from all 12 forwards on the four forward lines.

One of the big keys to that continuity and depth is Kelly, Eriksson and Soderberg teaming up as a legitimate offensive threat every single night, and providing the good two-way hockey that’s a natural fit for Claude Julien’s system.

“If you look at how [the third line] has played, produced and performed, I’d have to say I’m pretty happy with that line,” said Claude Julien. “They give us three solid scoring lines, and that energy line is always going to be there for us. When you look at that, it’s kind of what we wanted, and now we’ve got it.

“When it’s time to play your best hockey, you’ve got to hope that those lines are playing at their best because it will be needed in the playoffs.”

Soderberg is on pace for 13 goals and 46 points in his first full NHL season, and that’s more than Rich Peverley provided as the most offensive member of Boston’s third line two years ago. Kelly did have 20 goals scored, but topped out at 39 points in his career season that year.

So it should be interesting to watch what that third line can bring in the final 23 games of the regular season, and the Stanley Cup playoffs beyond when the third line will become a key factor.