By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- The Bruins first choice this summer to replace Mark Recchi on Patrice Bergerons right wing was the versatile Swiss Army Knife of NHL forwards.
That Swiss Army Knife has a name, and its Rich Peverley.
Hes fast, shifty, creative, hard-nosed, hard-working and responsible in the defensive end of the ice, and Peverley also has all kinds of chemistry with Bergeron and Brad Marchand a fact that was evident to even the hockey neophyte trying to execute the wave in the lower bowl at TD Garden during Bostons 6-3 win over the New York Islanders in the home preseason opener.
Peverley can even take face-offs in the instances when Bergeron is kicked out of the face-off circle, and hell kill penalties and be one of the trusted players out on the ice closing out narrow leads. Armed with all this information Peverley wasnt shying away from his desire to supplant Recchi at the right wing spot.
Well, I think we all know theres competition there for that right wing spot and obviously they play well together, said Peverley, after finishing with a goal and two assists that helped stir up a third period explosion. But I think nothings set in stone. Going forward here it could be anybody.
Peverley had three points in the third period and helped spark the Bs to four unanswered goals en route to the two-goal victory. More importantly he looked like a natural fit with Bergeron and Marchand flying up and down the ice.
Their speed and creativity including Peverleys beauty of a dish from behind the net to Dennis Seidenberg darting to the backdoor on the power play elevated them above every other player on the ice Friday night.
Perhaps it shouldnt have surprised anyone as Peverley had skated with the dynamic Bruins duo at points toward the end of last years regular season.
Peverley also spelled Recchi for occasional shifts during the playoffs as the Bruins coaching staff attempted to reap the most out of that outstanding trio of forwards, so there didnt need to be any grand introductions on the ice. It amounted to a winger with speed and 20-goal potential finding a way to fit with a couple of supremely talented 20-something hockey players.
The game-winning goal made that fact plainly obvious as each forward touched the puck on the play in tic-tac-toe fashion before Marchand flipped a shot past the flabbergasted defense into the open net. It demonstrated an unspoken vibe that all three forwards admitted feeling and enjoying on Friday night.
It also had Bergeron smirking postgame at the thought of starting the season together as the PBM (PeverleyBergeronMarchand) line.
Obviously we're not starting from scratch. You know we've all played some games last year. Peverley has got that speed and he's so smart with the puck. That makes plays easy, said Bergeron. You know whatwe really read each other very well. We didn't talk much on the ice at all.
We were just executing and just reacting and playing with instincts and when you do that, you know it makes the job easy for everyone on the ice.
Though theyve only been together for one highly productive preseason game, its hard to envision Claude Julien experimenting with too many line combinations beyond the one thats already snatched the jackpot.
Tyler Seguin will likely get a look with Bergeron and Marchand as well, and the 19-year-old deserves it after the work and dedication he put into his offseason. Not to mention the similar skill and skating speed he could add to that line himself.
It would also seem that Benoit Pouliot will earn a few reps at some of the top line spots, and skating right wing with fellow French-Canadian Bergeron and Marchand could be a scenario that gets a few chances to work.
Thats all well and good with both young guys deserving a look.
We can look at different things. It will depend on the games and whos in and whos out. Theres no doubt well have a look at our options, said Julien. Weve seen Tyler Seguin at centerit doesnt mean hes going to play there, maybe winger. Hes another guy that can add some speed, but well try to balance things out once we know who those guys are that are going to fill in those spots.
You lose Michael Ryder and you lose Mark Recchi, two guys that play the right side. So we got to be able to see whos going to fit where.
Sure, there will be more than one possible fit for that coveted right wing vacancy on the Bruins.
But its pure hockey folly to step in and separate a trio of forwards that are clicking together with chemistry, instincts and perhaps even a little gift from the hockey gods and Julien isnt going to mess with a good hockey thing after watching how important Bergeron, Marchand and Recchi were to last years Cup win.
It was those three that really hammered home the win over the Canucks in Game 7, and it was that particular line that also plays the shutdown role against the oppositions best offensive players during the season. Thats not an easy job description for three forwards to live up to each and every night, but perhaps Peverley is up for it. A similarly effective line could give the Bs a leg up on the seemingly impossible task of repeating.
The 29-year-old former Flames and Thrashers winger isnt going to camp in front of the net and battle with NHL behemoths like Recchi did before, but the famous Peverley could make the new look line very deadly.
Rex Mark Recchi was very smart and he knew exactly where to go. He liked to be in front of the net, though, and we knew that, said Marchand. So we would just kind of do our thing in the corner and bring it to the net -- and Rex was there.
Peverley is always very creative. Hes quick and smart with the puck, so it just adds another look to our line. Were three quick guys out there and good with the puck, so were making some pretty good plays.
The good plays started in Friday nights preseason opener, but there seems to be a lot more where that came from for the PBM line in the future.