Kobasew back on familiar line

Playing with Bergeron and Recchi

September 29, 2009, 3:06 PM

By: Matt Kalman

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Pound for pound, 5-foot-11, 192-pound Chuck Kobasew is one of the Bruins' most imposing physical presences.

While every opposing puck-carrier is fair game to the veteran winger, Kobasew rarely drops the gloves like he did Saturday night late in the preseason finale against Columbus. In response to what he deemed was a questionable hit by the Blue Jackets' Mike Blunden on Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask, Kobasew ended up dropping the gloves with the Blue Jackets' winger.

"I think I'm just a quiet guy. I don't show too much emotion, I think," said Kobasew after the Bruins practiced today Ristuccia Arena. "And for me, it doesn't matter who it is, if it's something against your teammate that's not necessary or clean, you're going to stick up for whoever it is. That's the way everyone in this room is. If it was me, I'm sure they'd do the same thing."

Quiet, with everything except his checking, Kobasew probably isn't on top of the list of candidates to replace Phil Kessel's offense. Even though Kobasew has scored 20 or more goals in each of his last three fully healthy NHL seasons, Bergeron, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic and Marco Sturm are always names that come up before Kobasew.

Just two days from the regular season opener, it looks like Kobasew will again be skating on a line with Mark Recchi and center Patrice Bergeron. Despite Kobasew battling a cracked rib and Recchi fighting the effects of a kidney stone, that trio was the Bruins' best two-way combination during their seven-game playoff series loss to Carolina.

Kobasew's certain there's still room for improvement by the triumvirate that was formed almost immediately after Recchi was acquired in early March. And that might boost the goal totals of all three skaters.

"I think we did some good things last year. But obviously we want to be even better and build off of that," said Kobasew. "So that's our focus this year. We're not satisfied with what happened last year. It's a new start. I think we all came into camp feeling good, so it's a matter of building it. We can produce more offensively and there are other areas of game that we've talked about at length and we want to work on."

"We've got to be a little more active, create more scoring chances that way," Kobasew continued when asked about the Bruins' emphasis on an even more aggressive forecheck. "Whether it's the forwards and the defensemen getting involved, that's something we've talked about. And I think that suits our line too. 'Rex' and I think the same way in terms of forecheck  we've got to get in there and separate the D man from the puck and get the puck back, and I think that helps our line."

As for last spring's rib problem, Kobasew said he was over it after about a month. It didn't hinder his offseason workouts and he's fine now.

"It's a physical game," said Kobasew, oozing John Wayne-like machismo as he reflected on the past. "You get banged up along the way and that's part of the game. It's a hard-hitting, fast-paced game. So that's the way it goes."

Sturm on the right
Barring a major change over the next couple days, it looks like the left-shooting Sturm will get the first crack at taking Kessel's place on Marc Savard's right wing opposite left wing Lucic. "I played center my first two or three years in San Jose," said Sturm. "I might've played a little bit on the right side but most of the time I stayed on the left. & The whole game is going to be a little bit different. It starts in your own end, your stick is on the opposite side, but going forward I always like to come in from my right side to the left (with the stick inside). So we'll see."

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