When center Patrice Bergeron gets the ‘all clear’ (possibly tomorrow) to resume his 2010-11 playoff season, then two things are sure to happen to this current Bruins lineup.
One: the B’s will get their best overall skater — from face-offs to two-way play — back in the lineup. And, two: one of the 12 forwards will be watching that game from the press level.
And the odd-man-out talks officially began last night, immediately following Boston’s Game 2, 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Lighting at the TD Garden. The usual fourth-line suspects were front and center: Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton. Even future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi’s name has been tossed out there.
All those players can be legitimate contenders to have their name-tags placed in the front row of the 9th floor level when No. 37 makes his Conference Finals debut.
However, that’s neither here-nor-there; that’s a different show all together. No matter which player it is — the chemistry and success of Michael Ryder–Chris Kelly–Tyler Seguin that make up the “third-line” should not be touched, tweaked, messed with or juggled whatsoever. And the proof was more apparent during last night’s contest than the scar on Guy Boucher’s right cheek.
Last evening, in front of the sell-out crowd of 17,565, was something special.
“What happened to him yesterday is so great, it’s exciting for all of us,” head coach Claude Julien said during the post game press conference about Seguin’s performance.
Just his fifth shift in the contest and 48 seconds into the second period, Seguin took a pass from Michael Ryder through the neutral zone, turned on the jets, split the Lightning defense, and roofed a backhander past Dwayne Roloson to tie the game up, 2-2.
The 19-year-old rookie, just two playoff games deep in his bright NHL career, added to his stellar two-points in Game 1 with an electrifying four-point (2 goals) ordeal last night — now brining his two-game scoring totals to 3-3-6 in 24:09 of total ice time this season.
“As a coach, when you see a young player play the way he did last night, it bodes so well for this organization and for him,” Julien added last night. “You hope that it continues. He’s that type of player that can give you that, almost on a nightly basis, he’s going to be that kind of an impact player. Yesterday was just the start of something that’s going to continue to grow.”
Seguin not only has been playing with a chip on his shoulder — proving that he not only belongs on this post season roster but that he can contribute in big ways — but has been injecting some life into 31-year-old Ryder.
“We read off each other pretty well, and know where we’re going to be on the ice,” Ryder said last night. “When Segs is skating and holding onto the puck, and making plays, that’s when he’s at his best.”
Ryder, who up until last night hadn’t found the back of the net since Game 4 against Montreal in Round 1, has posted nine points (4 goals) a plus-5 rating and 23 shots on goal in 13 games thus far. In his last two games, lined with Seguin, No. 73 has notched four of those points — 2 goals, including last night’s game-winner.
“Michael has been really reliable in the playoffs for us ever since I’ve known him,” said the coach. “And there is no doubt he seems to be one of those players that plays his best when the playoffs come around.
“And I think you can’t forget Kelly in there either,” said Julien. “When you look back at before Bergeron got injured, there was Kelly, Ryder and Peverley on that line that seemed to do extremely well. And Kelly seems to fit really well also with Ryder.”
“It just seems to click for some reason,” Ryder added last nights about the line’s chemistry. “And then Kells [Chris Kelly] played well tonight. And that’s all we need, all three of us going, and we read off of each other pretty well.”
The trio combined for a whopping 4-4-8, plus-7, and 10 of the team’s 35 shots on goal last night. When this team’s depth starts clicking, especially on offense, special things begin to happen.
Not only do they start to make up for lesser producing units. But all of a sudden the opposing top-lines — as Tampa did last night — are being juggled around and start scrambling for different match-ups. Lightning forward Martin St. Louis, on the top-line with Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone, was starting to shadow the 19-year-old Seguin and his fellow linemates as the game went on and as they began to tear it up.
Today in Florida, Julien addressed the media and had this to add to those three forwards that are white-hot, and whether lines will be messed with.
“We still have some decisions to make, but you know I’ll be honest with you, I liked what I saw, that line, the three of them just played well together. So we’ll make some decisions probably tomorrow.”
Seguin has been the offensive juggernaut that The Hub has been waiting for this post season; the oft-streaky Ryder is in the midst of a smoking-hot-streak; and the speedy, versatile Kelly has been clicking as their pivot. There’s no better overly-used cliche in the world that best describes this particular situation: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.