Bruins hope 3rd line 'gets on score sheet'

Bruins hope 3rd line 'gets on score sheet'
May 27, 2013, 7:30 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON – In a playoff series between the Bruins and Penguins where depth will be key, Boston quite simply needs more out of a third line that’s consistently struggled all season from beginning to end.

Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley struggled through injuries, slumps and revolving partners as their wing men during both the regular season and the playoffs, and have combined for just a single point and a minus-10 rating during 23 playoff games. Tyler Seguin has been their linemate through the New York Rangers series, and showed signs of offensive life with three points in his final two playoff games.

But that offense from Seguin was coming on the power play rather than during five-on-five play, and there is still another level both Kelly and Peverley have previously achieved during the playoffs. They’ll need to get there if they’re going to match a Pittsburgh Penguins team that can boast players like Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and James Neal on their third line depending on circumstances during the series.

“I think we talked about Tyler getting himself going a little bit better, and you saw more of that on the power play. His game, and his battle were a little bit better. We just need Kells [Chris Kelly] and Pev [Rich Peverley] to get that confidence to create even more,” said Claude Julien. “They started creating some stuff, but at the end of the day they weren’t necessarily on the score sheet.

“Some guys have stepped up in the second round and started showing up on the score sheet, and you’ve got to hope that those guys do the same thing in the third round [against Pittsburgh].”

Kelly and Peverley have combined for only 29 shots on goal in 23 total playoff games for the Bruins, and that’s not nearly enough offensive involvement or creation for either player. On the bright side they also combined for five shots on net in the Game 5 elimination of the Rangers, and perhaps that’s an encouraging sign for the Eastern Conference Finals.

But it’s also clearly reached the point where Boston’s third line has begun overshadowing the third line in terms of both production and impact in this playoff run, and that’s a proud statement for Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. It’s also a challenge for Kelly and Peverley, players that have both been 20-goal scorers and impact players for the Bruins in the past, to step up to a level that will allow the Bruins to match Pittsburgh’s depth and firepower.