Maybe it’s simply the eye-test or maybe there’s more to it, but the Boston Bruins third line certainly looked much improved in Game 3 the other night.
The Boston Bruins third line has routinely been a bit of a problem and one that has had no easy solution. Charlie Coyle is a more than capable third-line center but often gets the short straw when it comes to line-mates.
On Saturday, Coyle greatly benefited from being partnered with Sean Kuraly and a young and fesity Jack Studnicka. Even with Kuraly playing out-of-position on the wing, the line looked much better organised than the previous iteration with Nick Ritchie and Karson Kuhlman.
Not only did they as a group have the second-best relative Corsi For during 5-on-5 play, but they also dominated in the Expected Goals For stakes. On the night, the three of them failed to net any points at even-strength, but that was the picture for the entire Boston Bruins’ line-up.
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However, when we look to special teams, it’s clear that their revitalised even-strength play seemed to rub off. Coyle grabbed the game’s opening goal on the powerplay before putting up as assist for Kuraly on the penalty-kill early in the third period.
As any team that goes all the way in the Stanley Cup Playoffs knows, a lot must be said for having four lines that can all roll interchangeably. At the very least, you need three that you can put a strong focus on.
Right now with the make-up of this group, the Boston Bruins may have found their perfect blend of talent, youthful energy, speed and tenacity and are reaping the rewards.
In fact, you could make a reasonable argument that the injury to David Pastrnak has actually benefited them. Anders Bjork may not be the perfect fit on the first-line, but him shifting up the line-up is how we’ve stumbled upon this current trio.
If indeed the Bruins go on to close out this series with the Canes, you have to look to the revitalisation of their third line in Game 3 as somewhat of a turning point.
Safe to say Jack Studnicka should remain in the line-up for Game 4 and Nick Ritchie should again be a healthy scratch. That’d be the common sense thinking at least. Here’s hoping that’s the way Bruce Cassidy opts to go.