If Thursday morning’s pre-game skate for the Boston Bruins is any indication, they are going to have a bit of a different look (at least line combination wise) headed into Thursday night’s game with the New Jersey Devils.
With centers Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly not playing due to injury, the Bruins depth at the position is going to be tested and general manager Peter Chiarelli feels his players are more than capable of filling the void. So much so that Chiarelli has decided not to call up any reinforcements, instead he knows he’s got some wingers in Tyler Seguin and Kaspars Daugavins that can move to center.
According to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe, that’s exactly what happened for one of them at the Garden Thursday morning:
Rushes so far: Lucic-Krejci-Horton, Marchand-Seguin-Jagr, Pandolfo-Peverley-Daugavins, Paille-Campbell-Thornton.
— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) April 4, 2013
After my initial shock of seeing Pandolfo’s name still on the 3rd line, I let the other lines sink in and I got to say, I really like what I saw. The first line has remained intact, for now at least with David Krejci centering bruising power forwards Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. No problems here as that line finally seems to have gotten its act together as of late.
Julien then appears to have put newcomer Jaromir Jagr on the right wing of the second line, where he is flanked by the ever pesky Brad Marchand and centered by Tyler Seguin. Seguin is a natural center who has been forced to play the wing for the Bruins because they are so deep at center as it is, not to mention its easier for a kid to play wing the NHL rather than have all the responsibility of a center. But with Bergeron and Kelly out, Julien has decided to take the chains off Seguin and pair him with one of the greatest players in the history of the NHL in Jagr. This line should be real fun to watch and will no doubt draw comparisons to Jagr’s line in Philadelphia last year, when he was paired with Claude Giroux (Seguin) and Scott Hartnell (Marchand). Although I feel Marchand has a tad more skill than Hartnell, either way, this line has my attention.
Like I said before, Pandolfo is still somehow on the 3rd line and he’ll be playing with Rich Peverley and Kaspars Daugavins, with Peverley playing center. This could be a solid 3rd line but the offensive creativity of Peverley and Daugavins may be stymied by old-man Pandolfo. I’m sorry to keep piling it on Pandolfo, I know he’s trying hard and gives it everything he has every night, just its clearly not there anymore. Regardless, hopefully Daugavins and Peverley can get some chemistry going and spark a 3rd line that has been an uncharacteristically weak-spot for the Bruins.
The 4th line, also known as the “Merlot line”, appears to have remain untouched with Gregory Campbell centering Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. Easy decision for Julien as these three make up arguably one of the best 4th lines in the NHL. They wear teams down with their cycle and checking games, it isn’t always pretty, but its almost always effective.
There was also a good sign at practice Thursday morning when the injured Kelly was skating with his teammates for the first time since being injured. If and when he comes back I expect/hope that Pandolfo will be bumped out of the lineup and Kelly will be the 3rd line center flanked by Peverley and Daugavins.
Once Bergeron recovers from his latest concussion, Julien will have some even tougher decisions to make and will definitely have to do some more line-juggling. But for now, this is what your Boston Bruins are going to look like.