It is very tough to be critical when the Bruins hold a 14-3-3 record heading into their Thursday tilt with the Maple Leafs at TD Garden, but if there is one thing that has been constant all season, it is the lack of production of that third line of Chris Bourque, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
The chemistry has just not been there with these three players to start the season. They have combined for only five goals and 10 assists on the year (15 points). Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci have more points individually than the third line and that must change. The most alarming part of the third-line catastrophe is that each player has a minus rating while on the ice including Chris Kelly’s minus seven. Kelly was plus 33 last season which makes Bruins fans scratch their heads. Rich Peverley who was a plus 20 last season with 42 points in 57 games holds a minus eight with six points on the year. Lastly, Chris Bourque who was given the opportunity to don the Bruins sweater like his father just has not delivered. He has one goal and three assists on the season and sports a minus six.
Head coach Claude Julien voiced his frustrations following last night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the desperate Washington Capitals.
“We’ve got a lot of guys now that need to be better for us and that’s something we can all see,” Julien said. “Kelly was on the ice for three goals, one of which was that face-off play when he’s out there with (Patrice) Bergeron. But, somehow if you’re not going to produce you need to be able to at least keep the puck out of your own net. Right now, we’re not getting either from that line, so it’s a concern that we need to look at.”
Bruins fans have not been happy with the play of this third line and want a shake-up badly. Many fans want Chris Bourque sent back down to Providence to give Jordan Caron a shot, but what the average fan doesn’t know is that Caron has been below average down at Providence while fighting injuries. Caron has 10 goals and five assists in 44 games while holding a minus six while on the ice. That is the stat Julien will be looking at. Bruins fans know this by now.
The April trade deadline could be an interesting few days for the Bruins as they will look to add another right scorer to bolster that third line. We will see. They have never been aggressive on days like that, but General Manager Peter Chiarelli knows he cannot win another Stanley Cup with the production from that third line. Names such as: Danny Briere, Daniel Alfredsson and Jarome Iginla have been thrown around, but Chiarelli never goes for the house hold name. We will see. He knows he needs to get creative if he doesn’t want to see his third line struggle anymore. Stay tuned.