Balanced attack pays dividends

December, 27, 2009
12/27/09
10:17
PM ET

Maybe the Bruins' patience with streaky scorers Michael Ryder and Marco Sturm during the duo's recent doldrums is going to pay off with a hot streak from both players at the same time.


Ryder and Sturm both scored in Boston's 2-1 road win over Florida Sunday night, which means Ryder has scored in two straight while Sturm has scored twice in the last three games. Prior to their recent show of life, Sturm hadn't scored in five games and Ryder had failed to light the lamp in four in a row. Both have now cracked double figures in goals scored and are inching closer to the pace the Bruins expected of them when the season started.


But just as important for the Bruins as the hot hands of their top snipers is the club's sudden balance of production from all four lines. For too long, just one line was on top of its game each night. But recently the Bruins have been a four-line force again, reminiscent of last winter's squad.


In addition to goals from Sturm and Ryder, Boston got tons of scoring chances from Patrice Bergeron and Vladimir Sobotka's trios. Daniel Paille, skating on Bergeron's left wing, was particularly active even though he didn't have anything to show for his efforts.


On the back end, Boston showed great balance as well. A couple of weeks ago, it was suggested in this space that the Bruins split up the top blue-line pair of Zdeno Chara and Derek Morris. In Morris' first game back from injury, he skated with Matt Hunwick while Chara stayed paired with Dennis Wideman and the effective combo of Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference stayed together.

The result -- after a lackluster first period by all 19 Bruins -- was a solid mix of offense and defense in addition to an almost amazing split of ice time between the Boston sextet along the blue line. The Morris-Hunwick duo might be a temporary pairing for coach Claude Julien while Morris works his way back into form, but more games like Sunday night's could make the six-man alignment permanent.


While a three-game winning streak is hardly reason to throw a parade, the roster depth the Bruins always boast about is finally starting to shine through. And the return of Milan Lucic is still on the horizon.

Matt Kalman

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. He has been on the Bruins beat since the lockout for numerous publications and has been covering the Boston sports scene for a decade.

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