Monday, June 17, 2013
Will the Bruins' fourth line re-emerge?
By Pierre LeBrun
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins were still contemplating Monday what to do about a fourth line that has been lost in the shuffle during the Stanley Cup finals.
For the most part, the fourth unit in the morning skate was Kaspars Daugavins, Rich Peverley and Shawn Thornton, the three guys who ended up there late in Game 2. But I’m not sure Bruins coach Claude Julien is married to it. Carl Soderberg may also be an option on that line.
Julien said he was still considering his options and wasn’t 100 percent sure. I suspect he’s contemplating the possibility of Soderberg as a countermeasure to the Chicago Blackhawks deciding to bring back Viktor Stalberg for Game 3. Stalberg was scratched the opening two games in favor of Brandon Bollig.
Stalberg, who brings more skill but less physicality than Bollig, skated on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik at the Hawks’ morning skate.
If Soderberg does come in, I’m guessing it’s for Daugavins.
What’s been interesting in this series is that the Blackhawks have rolled four lines more consistently than the Bruins, and that's usually a staple for Boston. But since a season-ending injury to valuable checking center Gregory Campbell in the last round, the Bruins’ bottom six has been a bit in flux.
Julien found some gold midway through Game 2 when he put Chris Kelly between Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin, with the newly formed third line scoring the tying and overtime goals. That unit stayed together at the morning skate Monday.
Clearly, there wasn’t much confidence in what became a new fourth line during Game 2, Daugavins-Peverley-Thornton, as each played sparingly. Some of that was because the Hawks had the last line change and coach Joel Quenneville often tried to put out his second line, centered by Michal Handzus (between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane), whenever Julien had his fourth line on the ice. It’s a matchup the Bruins' coach obviously wanted no part of.
The reason the Hawks could afford to try to get that matchup is that Quenneville has no problem using Frolik and Kruger on a fourth line against Boston’s top lines.
Now that the series has shifted to Boston, however, it’s Julien who is armed with the last line changes for Games 3 and 4, and that will afford him chances to better control the matchups and perhaps get his fourth line out there a bit more with more protection.
“There's no doubt it makes it a little bit easier,” Julien said. “Doesn't mean it's going to happen all the time, but it certainly is a lot easier. Joel's a pretty good coach, smart coach. When he senses something, he'll take advantage of it.
“I had to be extra careful in Chicago with that. But, again, tonight hopefully it's a little easier. Nonetheless, we're in the finals here, you got to do what you got to do. Sometimes you may play guys a little bit more, but they're capable of handling the ice time.”