Report cards: Third line gets offensive
Bruins report card -- Third line
Final grades are in for the 2011-2012 Boston Bruins. Here's the third line.
|PLAYER||SEASON AND PLAYOFF RECAP/GRADE|
When the Bruins signed Pouliot as an unrestricted free agent last summer it was a bit of a head-scratcher as there were plenty of questions and rumors about the work ethic and commitment of the fourth-overall pick in the 2005 draft. Pouliot was a frequent healthy scratch in his previous stops with the Wild and Canadiens and had yet to realize his full potential as a top 5 pick. While he might never reach that level, his work ethic improved and he was able to score 16 goals and help set up another 16 in the regular season. He also chipped in with a goal and an assist in the playoffs with his goal being the grinding, drive-to-the-net type goal the Bruins needed more of in their seven-game series loss to Washington. Pouliot was definitely better than expected but still has room for improvement with his natural skill and size.
When Tyler Seguin met the media after being awarded the Seventh Player Award as the "player who best exceeded expectations" he immediately said that Kelly deserved the award over him and there is no argument here. Kelly, who was named an alternate captain at the beginning of the season, was the team's unsung hero and gave the Bruins much more than they expected. For the first time in his career, Kelly reached the 20-goal mark, finishing with 20 goals and had 19 assists. Already one of the team's best defensive players and someone that gives his best effort every game, Kelly became a scoring threat as well and was one of the team's best all-around players.
Rich Peverley/Brian Rolston
The right wing slot on this line -- much like the right wing slot on the No. 2 line -- changed a lot due to a midseason knee injury to Peverley. When Peverley did play, he was solid, especially in the playoffs where he had three goals and two assists while playing on a number of different line. But Peverley was limited to just 57 games due to the injury, finishing with 11 goals and 31 assists. Thankfully, Brian Rolston arrived at the trade deadline and found the fountain of youth again.
|LINE'S OVERALL GRADE|| |
Like the line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin, the Bruins' third line of Pouliot-Kelly-Peverley/Rolston gave the Bruins a lot more offense than expected. The trio was depended on for a solid two-way game, but defense was always expected to be their bread and butter. But ironically this line helped the Bruins be the second-highest scoring team in the NHL while still maintaining that defense-first mentality. They provided versatility for head coach Claude Julien and were another example of the depth he had in his forward unit.
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Joe McDonald, a native Rhode Islander, joined ESPNBoston.com as a Bruins and Red Sox reporter in February 2010. He worked at the Providence Journal for 18 years and covered the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, PawSox and Providence Bruins. He's a three-time winner of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's state Sportswriter of the Year for Rhode Island. Ask a question in our next Bruins mailbag. Follow him on Twitter here.