Top line quietly makes big impact on Friday

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Top line quietly makes big impact on Friday

BOSTON -- Both Claude Julien and Zdeno Chara called their fourth line their best line, following Friday night's 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.

And in the first two periods, Shawn Thornton, Greg Campbell, and Daniel Paille helped provide the first two Bruins goals.

Thornton and Campbell scored the goals, and Paille assisted on the first, getting a piece of a Dougie Hamilton shot from the point that was initially saved, but then followed up by Thornton for a rebound goal.

The Bruins' fourth line helped keep the game tied through the first two periods, for sure. But the game-winner was a product of the Bruins' top line. And while Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton may not have been the team's best trio for the first 40 minutes on Friday night, they've been providing plenty of big goals in the early stages of the lockout-shortened season.

Add Zdeno Chara's wrister from the top of the left circle to the list. Because not only was the captain's third-period snipe the game-winner, but it was set up by Krejci, Horton, and Lucic.

"We had some good traffic, and Looch made a really nice play," said Chara after the win. "So, it worked out really well."

Krejci took the puck over the blue line along the right boards, and dumped it in deep, where Horton picked it up in the right corner. As Horton turned with the puck back towards the right half-wall, he softly cycled it back behind the net to Lucic.

As Lucic took the pass behind the net while facing the glass, he faked Marty Reasoner left, and came back to his right, where he stepped out to the circle, turned and sent a pass through the slot to Chara above the left circle.

Afterwards, Lucic applauded Chara's effort to step up into open space, given the overloading defense that New York was playing.

"I'm looking for that guy right there, and Chara did a great job getting open," said Lucic. "If you can see, he seeped down to the top of the circles there, because a lot of teams now, when they overload in the defensive zone, they take away that strong-side D-man. So he did a great job getting open for me there, where I could make that pass.

"As much as it is a pass from me, it's him getting open and him giving me that outlet. And he did a great job of that."

That is true. But as much as it's Chara getting open, it's also Lucic -- and the rest of the Bruins' top forward line -- having the ability to step up in a big spot, and make a big play.

Lucic' pass can be considered a big play, at a big moment. It seems as if all three of his points (two goals and an assist) this season have been important.

Overall, the first line has been an important part of Boston's early-season success, even if most in the room are praising the fourth line for keeping them in the game on Friday.

It should also be noted that on Campbell's goal -- Boston's second of the game that tied it at 2-2 -- Krejci recorded the assist. His attempt to throw it on net was blocked by Islanders defenseman Joe Finley, and Campbell knocked in the loose puck.

That marked Krejci's third assist of the season. He didn't receive an assist on Chara's goal -- the game-winner that his line set up. But Krejci's screen out front of Rick DiPietro certainly played a factor.

"Krejci did a good job by just getting the puck in the zone, and then Horton did a good job creating that cycle," said Lucic. "And Chara did a great job finding that soft area where he could get open. Another goal tonight with a guy right in front of the net to create the screen. It was a good one to get us going in the third."

It got them going in the third, and it finished the Islanders off. Credit on this night will go to the fourth line.

But the game-winner also shows another solid showing from Claude Julien's top-three forwards.

Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

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Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

CHICAGO – The Bruins finished up their 2017 NHL Draft class with a bit of a project, but a 6-foot-5 defenseman with some great skating wheels is a pretty good way to go with a seventh round pick. The B’s nabbed Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Daniel Bukac with the 204th pick in the draft, and admitted afterward that he’s an ultra-big bodied player that could take some time in the development process.

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley said Boston is more than happy to be patient with Bukac given the tools that he’s working with as an 18-year-old prospect. Bukac had two goals and 17 points to go along with 38 penalty minutes in his first season in North America after coming over from the Czech Republic, and Bradley said that B’s scouts noted that he continued to improve and get comfortable as the season wore on.

"He's raw. He's a project. [He’s a] kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League,” said Bradley. “At the start of the year - he's come leaps and bounds with his development. Talking to the people - the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they're very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They're expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp."

Bukac is starting to garner some good international experience after playing for the Czechs in the Under-18’s and the Ivan Hinkla Tournament, but this weekend it was all about his addition to the talented group of Bruins prospects in the hockey world.

"I'm so excited to be drafted by the Boston Bruins," said Bukac, who described himself as a solid two-way defenseman with a good first pass. "It's an awesome feeling. I'm so glad that I was drafted by Boston."

Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

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Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

CHICAGO – While the Bruins went strong two-way defenseman early in the 2017 NHL Draft, they took a shot at a more offensive-minded Swedish defenseman late with seventh-round pick of Victor Berglund.

The six-foot, 165-pound Berglund clearly has a way to go in physical development and will need to get much bigger and stronger before he’s potentially ready for the North American pro ranks, but B’s assistant GM Scott Bradley raved about the Swedish defenseman’s skill set and potential. He also noted that Boston’s entire European scouting contingent, including former B’s forward PJ Axelsson, were fully on board with taking a flier on a talented player that simply needs to develop in the Swedish hockey system.

“Our Swedish guys were on top of Berglund. They think he’s a mobile D, he’s ultra-skilled and he skates well. He’s a six-footer, but [PJ Axelsson, Svenake Svensson and Victor Nybladh] were all pounding the table for him,” said Bradley. “We went along with it and I think we might have something there. Talking to his strength coach after the fact he’s working on putting some muscle and weight on, so we look forward to seeing him at development camp.”

In 62 games at three different levels, Berglund posted five goals and 18 points last season and displayed the kind of speed, creativity and play-making that one needs from their defensemen in today’s NHL.

"I'm an offensive defenseman, who likes to play with the puck, with a great short pass," said Berglund. "I like to follow the rush up ice and want the puck."

It will be a matter of building size and strength and for Berglund to continue developing his game in Sweden for the time being, but the Bruins are certainly happy with him at the 195th pick in Saturday’s second day of the draft.