For the most part, the B’s looked good. They continued to shoot often and crashed the net a decent amount. I say for the most part because there were some players that struggled a bit.
I’m talking about the second defensive pairing of Mike Reilly and Brandon Carlo and the fourth line of Sean Kuraly, Curtis Lazar, and Chris Wagner.
Reilly and Carlo have been solid since Carlo returned and I expect them to have a bounce back performance for Game 4. However, since being reunited in Game 2, the fourth line has been the obvious worst line for the Black and Gold and I can’t see that changing with this trio together.
Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner deserve to be healthy scratches for the Boston Bruins.
While the B’s top-nine have kicked it into gear after struggling Game 1, the fourth line has continued to struggle the last two games.
Ever since head coach Bruce Cassidy reunited the trio of Kuraly, Lazar, and Wagner as the fourth line, this line has basically been non-existent or even worse as they often get trapped in their own zone.
When first put together after making the trade for Taylor Hall and Lazar, this line played quite well as they played with energy and were able to sustain some offensive-zone time. However, this fire quickly faded, resulting in Kuraly being moved up to 3C and Charlie Coyle, who was struggling at the time, being moved over to right wing.
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These changes worked as Jake DeBrusk slotted in at 4LW after being a healthy scratch for a few games and found his game. Coyle also found his game with less responsibility at right wing. With Coyle playing well, Kuraly also played well.
However, Coyle missed the last couple of games with an injury and Kuraly went cold again.
The third line of Nick Ritchie, Kuraly, and Coyle would be reunited for the first game of the series but they would be split up again for Game 2 as they couldn’t find the same success as they did before Coyle’s injury. This line being split up may also be a result of DeBrusk’s continued strong performances as he’s been moved up to 3RW after previously playing at 4LW.
While the current third line of Ritchie, Coyle, and DeBrusk has played well, the trio of Kuraly, Lazar, and Wagner hasn’t. The B’s cannot afford to have such a weak fourth line as the Caps are able to roll out four solid lines. Something needs to change.
My first suggestion is scratching Kuraly and Wagner, who both have played quite poorly and do not warrant a lineup spot at the moment. They should be replaced by Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman who have both shown they are willing to relentlessly forecheck and play with energy.
However, if Kuraly stays in the lineup, I am more open to moving him back to 3C, Coyle back over to wing, and DeBrusk back down to 4LW as I think this gives the B’s a well-balanced lineup. But, if this is the case, I still want Wagner scratched for either Kuhlman or Frederic. Obviously, if Frederic is chosen to replace Wagner he’ll go at 4C and Lazar will be moved over to right wing.
Overall, Boston has played well enough to just get by Washington as all three games have gone to overtime. I think if they can get all four lines going, they can beat the Caps handedly.