In the last few years, the Boston Bruins have been known as a perennial Cup contender. The Bruins have had great goaltending in the last few years. Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask have been wonderful in the crease for us. The Black and Gold have had dependable and strong top six forwards for their team. These last few years, the Merlot Men have been the anchor for the team, and the strongest fourth line in NHL. However, the Bruins have had one nagging problem these last few season.
That problem has been the Bruins third line. Even in the Bruins Stanley Cup Championship run in 2011, the third line was the one speed bump in an otherwise brilliant Bruins offense. The last few seasons has seen the third line go through extensive renovations. Players like Jordan Caron and Chris Bourque trying to find a place on the Bruins roster, only to not meet the expectation of finally fixing the Bruins broken line. The frustration of being on the ‘bad’ Bruins line had to be a source of unending frustration for these players.
Third line center Chris Kelly knows about that feeling all too well. He was one of the few constants in the third line these last few seasons. He’ll have to make up a whole new line again this year as his wingers will be selected from a number of possible candidates (Caron once again is in the mix) for the job. Kelly was honest about his performance last year.
“It would have been a memorable season if we had won, but there were certainly some days when I was a little frustrated,” said Kelly after the season. “But some days aren’t going to be great, and some days are. It’s all in how you handle it, and I think I actually learned a lot about myself as a person this year.”
The Bruins are likely going to be playing round-robin with the third line again this season. We will probably see Daniel Paille move up occasionally to help on the third line. (I’m hoping it’s a more permanent move, Paille has earned it.) There are a number of young guns looking to crack into those lines. Carl Soderberg, Jamie Tardif, and Ryan Spooner could end up on the third (or fourth) line with a good performance in training camp. If the young blood does well enough, once could see Chris Kelly on the trading block, or even possibly on waivers.
Chris Kelly is still committed to the team’s performance, and the intensity of competition could push him back into another twenty goal season. “It wasn’t the best year for me, and everybody knows that. There was no hiding it, but I was able to deal with it. It just makes you want to work that much harder to get back to helping the team as much as you can.”