Haggerty: PBR line serving it up for Bruins

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Haggerty: PBR line serving it up for Bruins

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- All votes are hardly in, not with only two games played, but the Bruins' PBR Line looks like a winner.

PBR probably conjures up images of blue ribbon beer goodness to most, but its also the perfect moniker for the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley as they teamed up for five points, a plus-6 and 12 shots on net in Bostons 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden Saturday night.

The three forwards were kicking each other after Thursday night for failing to convert on a bevy of offensive chances, but it was an entirely different story against the Lightning.

They were simply continuing the chemistry and production they began building during the preseason, and there was no mistaking how all their efforts funneled into the explosive elements of Peverleys two-goal masterpiece against the Lightning.

I feel we're creating a lot of chances off the rush, and even in zone, by our forecheck and by the way we keep moving our feet, said Bergeron. I thought we had a lot of chances last game as well and we didnt finish. Tonight we had the same thing and we found a way.

Peverley actually bookended the four-goal outburst from the Bruins against the Lightning, and ironically enough potted a pair of Mark Recchi-esque goals while going about replacing the retired legend at the left wing post he manned alongside Bergeron and Marchand last season.

Both were collected by patrolling near the painted area, and having that nose for the net Recchi turned into an art form.

Peverley served as a bottom-six forward last season for the Bruins in an adjustment to a deeper, more talented team, but now hes back in a prime scoring role like the one that allowed him score more than 20 goals and 50 points for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Its no stretch to think Peverley can do that again with the kind of catalyst winger and premier centerman logging shifts with him that he never had with the Thrashers.

When he came to us from Atlanta, he was in the top two lines and thats where he played, said coach Claude Julien. With the depth that we had last year, we just felt that him on the third line and Chris Kelly on that line, just gave us such good depth. We felt really comfortable with those top three lines scoring with Michael Ryder, and they proved that against Montreal in that series.

I dont think we ever doubted Peverley could play in the top six. I think he just seems to be getting better with our group, and he feels more comfortable.

The first marker was a goal earned simply by crashing the net and popping the rebound of a Marchand shot that clanked off both posts behind Mathieu Garon before it landed at Peverleys feet. The score was truly created by the devilish mind of Marchand, who fooled the defense into thinking hed feed Zdeno Chara at the point before he unleashed a laser at the net fooling the Bolts netminder.

The final goal was all speed and tenacity a pair of words that will become synonymous with the PBR Line as Marchand and Bergeron got the Lightning defenseman scrambling. Bergeron set things in motion by squeezing off a shot after hed quickly moved from backhand to forehand in the slot area that handcuffed the Tampa goaltender.

Garon was able to stop the first shot, but once again Peverley was crashing down on the net with a fierce burst of speed and tucked the puck past the Tampa Bay backup backstop.

Though Peverley and Recchi have some obvious differences as hockey players, one cant be faulted if they watched 60 minutes of hockey on Saturday night and thought they were watching a faster, more elusive Recchi skating around on the Garden ice.

Peverleys jets and skating wiggle give the PBR line a chance to create chaos with their speed and suffocating forecheck and thats exactly what happened to an overmatched group of defensemen all evening long. Throw in the chemistry that all three forwards created last year when they were together at times during the regular season and playoffs, and you have a line that Julien whether purposefully or by slip of the tongue labeled his top line during his postgame comments.

Given their speed, production, chemistry and willingness to play hard, relentless hockey at both ends of the rink, they look like the trio Julien is going to call on most often in key situations during the game.

The scariest part: after improving by leaps and bounds from opening night to Game No. 2, Marchand believes there is a great deal more growth still on tap for the PBR Line.

I think our line played better tonight than we did last game. I think the more were practicing and playing together the more confident were getting where each other is going to be and making plays together, said Marchand. Hopefully as the season goes on well be able to continue to grow and get better.

With Marchands feistiness, Bergerons two-way dominance and Peverleys blazing speed, the sky is the limit as the PBR Line gathers steam over the course of the brand new hockey season.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

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Haggerty: Bruins putting a lot of their hopes in one roster fix

The improvement plan has become as clear as it’s going to be for the Bruins this offseason.

With Bruins general manager Don Sweeney locking up Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million deal this week and vowing to sign Torey Krug as well, the Bruins defensemen corps is going to look awfully similar to last season’s misbegotten group.

Almost identical, it would seem.

Sure, Sweeney said on Wednesday that the Bruins are actively seeking out “a transitional defenseman” that’s presumably a little better than 35-year-old journeyman John-Michael Liles, and can be paired with Zdeno Chara as a top duo for next season. It’s the No. 1 priority on the Bruins offseason shopping list just as it was last season once they shipped Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for draft picks and were instead saddled with a fearsome, crippling black hole at the top of their organizational D-man charts.

The trade market has been set to a degree by the Erik Gudbranson trade from the Florida Panthers to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night with Jim Benning giving up a Grade-A center prospect in Jared McCann, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick in exchange for the 24-year-old top-four defenseman. Per a hockey source with knowledge of the situation, the Bruins were not involved in any talks for the towering Gudbranso. It sounded like the Panthers and Canucks were pretty locked in with each other on making a deal.

That’s an unfortunate product of Boston not being able to match up with the available center prospect that might have interested Florida and having dealt some of those 2016 draft picks on fruitless deadline rental deals for Lee Stempniak and Liles.

So, how difficult will it be to land Kevin Shattenkirk, or Jacob Trouba, or Sami Vatanen, or Tyson Barrie, or any other mobile blueliner able to play big minutes, move pucks and survive against the other team’s best offensive players while being sheltered defensively by Zdeno Chara?

“Time will tell on that one, you know? Either through free agency or through acquisition, it’s a matter of finding a trading partner or finding a match in the marketplace. We’re going to be aggressive,” said Sweeney. “We certainly have identified, we had our pro meetings … I’m not going to give my whole plan out to you today. But we have areas that we want to address in the depth of our organization more likely in the forward position, either on the right wing or the center, or again on the backend. We’re exploring a bunch of different things trade-wise. It’s difficult in this league, but I think that we’re in the position with two first-round picks to be either selecting really good players or to be in the marketplace.”

The Bruins had better hope it’s a miracle-working puck-mover that they bring to Boston because otherwise they are on course for bringing back the same old sorry usual suspects from last season. Miller and Adam McQuaid will be taking up a combined $5.25 million on the salary cap, Krug will have a salary in the range of $5 million per season after watching the B’s largesse in the Miller deal and both Chara and Seidenberg will trudge on as proud, aging warriors well on the back end of their careers after outstanding service in Boston.

That means many defenders, including Joe Morrow and Colin Miller, return. Defense was the clear weakness on the team, which finished 19th in the NHL after being in the bottom third of the league pretty much all season. It was inarguably the worst defensive group of Claude Julien’s 10-year tenure with the Bruins and had major difficulties in all areas ranging from tape-to-tape passes, to coverage breakdowns and good, old-fashioned lost battles in all of the danger areas.

So, with the plan to add one high-caliber “transitional defenseman” already laid out, it’s clear the B’s belief is that will be enough to substantially improve things on the ice.

At least that’s the theory before the bullets start flying next season and Sweeney gave a few perfunctory lines about the team improving in every area.  

“This is a results-oriented business, so we have to get better in areas. We have to improve our roster. I’ve said all along that we need to continue to improve our roster. We’ll be in the marketplace in every different way, shape, or form to try and acquire players that will continue to help us do so,” said Sweeney. “Talking with Claude and going over the time he spent with Butch [Cassidy], through my dealings with Butch, and realizing the development of a lot of the players that have been a part of our roster and success is the transition game and stuff that Butch has brought to the table.

“[It’s] how he saw the game, how he expects players to play and move pucks and work on it every day, is an area that I think he’s going to be an addition to our [coaching] staff and how he sees the game. I think I identified that if Butch was playing in this day and age now, he’d be a very welcome addition to our roster.”

So that’s the plan, folks. The big move of the summer is getting a defenseman they badly need, filling in a few roster spots, signing a good deal of their own players and then hoping for a better result next time around.

Isn’t there some kind of line about insanity and expecting different results with the same cast of characters year in and year out? 

 

Thursday, May 26: Will going with Fleury haunt Penguins?

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Thursday, May 26: Will going with Fleury haunt Penguins?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while still laughing at the #TeamFrich movement.

*Dave Lozo says that the decision by Mike Sullivan to play Marc-Andre Fleury could still come back to haunt the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Miracle on Ice goaltender Jim Craig marvels at the evolution of USA Hockey from the Miracle days to the current system that just keeps on producing top talent.

*Mike from Woburn hates the Kevan Miller contract almost as much as I do.

*Speaking of the Kevin Miller deal, here’s a scenario where the big overpay for Miller might help them land another talented young player.

*In other hockey news, the Vancouver Canucks landed legitimate top-4 defenseman Erik Gudbranson while the ink was drying on the Kevan Miller contract.

*Chris Phillips is expected to announce his retirement from the Ottawa Senators after a long career in Ottawa as a defensive warrior.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough says some tough decisions await the St. Louis Blues after dropping the conference finals to the San Jose Sharks.

*The San Jose media has decreed that it was worth spending a first-round pick for Martin Jones after he helped carry them to the Cup Final. For the Bruins it means that their first round pick will be No. 29 or No. 30 in the first round, so whoop-de-do for that.

*For something completely different: 21 scientists say that Tom Brady is right and the NFL is wrong about Deflategate.