When the Bruins kicked off training camp just over a week ago, we knew one of the biggest battles in camp would be the competition for the job as the third line right wing, and after three interesting preseason games the third line picture is just as unclear now as it was when training camp started.
Jordan Caron was certainly the early favorite heading into camp, but Caron has done nothing to show the Bruins that he is the right fit for the job. The 22-year old Caron has failed to register a point in the two preseason games he has played in, and his pretty much been non-existent on the ice.
Like Caron, Ryan Spooner, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser, all of whom are battling for the starting gig on the third line, have failed to separate themselves from the pack.
Despite the struggles of the four guys who were expected to have the best chance at making the opening day roster, one newcomer has made some noise in the preseason and because of it, he has entered the mix and very well could be on the Bruins third line when the season begins on October 3.
Nick Johnson currently sits tied with some guy named Jarome Iginla for the team lead in preseason goals with 3. Johnson who played with the Phoenix Coyotes last season signed with the Bruins this offseason after agreeing to a one-year, two-way deal.
It should come to no surprise that Bruins fans don’t know much about the former third round draft pick as Bruins head coach Claude Julien admitted that he himself did not know much about Johnson prior to camp.
“They signed him. I didn’t know much about him before camp. He’s got I think close to 100 games in the NHL.”
That would be 104 games, Claude, and 14 goals to go along with those 104 NHL games.
Johnson made his Bruins debut Monday in Montreal where he chipped in with two goals—including a power play tally— en route to a Bruins 6-3 victory up north. Last night during the Bruins’ 8-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, Johnson lit the lamp again, making it three goals in two games.
“It shows that he has some experience in these types of games. We’re always looking for depth players, again there’s some spots open and right now he’s created a good battle for some of those open spots right now” added Julien.
“He’s scored a couple of goals; I think in Montreal, he’s got another one tonight [Thursday against Detroit], two goals in three games. Not bad for a guy that came in that not too many people knew about.”
The open spot on the Bruins third line could be a revolving door between a handful of guys as the Bruins look to find a permanent body on that line, but if Johnson keeps finding the back of the net and producing like he has through two games, It could be an easy decision for Julien and the Bruins.
The Bruins have four games remaining in the 2013-14 preseason, a lot of eyes will be focused on Nick Johnson and the rest of the Bruins who are looking to crack the opening day roster.