Even though the third line has basically been invisible so far in this series, it appears as though there will not be any changes to the offense as the Bruins head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs in game 3 of their first-round playoff matchup.
The forward lines are expected to look something like this:
The top-2 lines have been together for sometime now and have obvious chemistry, they have also been playing pretty well so far in the playoffs. The 4th line of Paille, Campbell and Thornton is arguably one of the best 4th lines in the league and they bring the energy and toughness every night. All of that is all well and good, but the 3rd line has been doing little-to-nothing and that needs to change if the Bruins hope to win this game and eventually the series.
Jaromir Jagr is 41 years old and is getting over a pretty nasty bout with the flu, still he needs to be better and should be better. His turnover at the end of game 2 that led to a James van Riemsdyk goal was downright inexcusable, especially for a legend like Jagr. But Jagr isn’t alone in his struggles, Chris Kelly was injured for a lot of the season but came back towards the end and showed some pretty nice chemistry with Jagr, however that chemistry has not shown up on the scoreboard for the Bruins yet in these playoffs. Peverley was a healthy scratch in game 1 and probably could’ve been a healthy scratch in game 2 and I doubt anyone would’ve noticed. I don’t know what’s happened to Peverley but he has struggled all season and its carried over into the postseason.
With the 3rd line struggling, I would say Julien has two options: 1) keep the lines they way they are or 2) shake things up. Personally, I’d rather have him shake things up but with the other 3 lines playing so well I can see why Julien is hesitant to do that, but he could do it without breaking up those other lines.
I thought Kaspars Daugavins held his own in game 1 but the offense still wasn’t there, so I doubt Julien would go back to him. Instead, he could simply insert Carl Soderberg in Peverley’s spot and see what the imposing Swede can do. I like what I saw from Soderberg in the regular season and he’s a big body that appeared to play pretty well with Jagr. Not sure why exactly Julien hasn’t gone to Soderberg yet, but I’m sure he has his reasons. However, if this line struggles for another game, he may not have any other choice and maybe Soderberg could be the answer.
On the blue-line, the Bruins will be welcoming back Andrew Ference, who is returning from a one-game suspension. Ference replaces rookie Dougie Hamilton, who made his NHL playoff debut in game 2 and didn’t look out of place. In fact, some even feel that maybe Adam McQuaid should be shelved instead of Hamilton, but alas, Ference is replacing Hamilton.
Ference is a veteran and it’s easy to see why he’ll slide right back into the lineup, “He understands how important those playoff games and those things you do in playoffs are,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said of Ference. “He’s stabilized our defense as far as getting the right pairs and everything else. He’s a guy who comes to play every night. Not only is he a good player, he’s a good leader.”
Look for Tuukka Rask to get the start in net as he’s looked solid and has done nothing to warrant losing his job. He actually did all he could to keep the Bruins in game 2 but there was just too many mistakes that eventually did the Bruins in.
Puck drops on game 3 Monday night at 7PM EST at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and will be aired nationally on the NHL Network and regionally on NESN, CBC or RDS.