Yes, it has only been two games, but the third line for the Boston Bruins looks like it can make a difference this season.
Chris Kelly, Jordan Caron and Reilly Smith were crucial in the B’s two wins this season. Kelly scored the B’s first goal of the 2013-14 season – on a penalty shot – in a 3-1 over the Lightning, while Caron netted his first goal versus the Red Wings. Reilly Smith picked up an assist with a beautiful pass to Caron for his first point as a Bruin.
As a whole, the trio is a plus-4 on the young season. This is something Bruins fans were not used to seeing from their third line last season, but so far this third line has clicked.
But, the real question is what happens when Carl Soderberg is ready to play? Does Claude Julien insert him into the lineup and possibly ruin the chemistry between Kelly, Caron and Smith?
Right now, it would seem Julien does not want to tinker with his third line after their performance in the first two games of the year.
Julien also pointed to the positive performance his third line did against such an experienced duo of Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary of the Red Wings.
“Those are guys that you don’t see too often on the bottom third and fourth line, so those guys did great,” he said. “Two young guys in (Reilly) Smith and (Jordan) Caron played hard and played well and managed to score a goal as well.”
Soderberg has missed the black and gold’s first two games with an ankle injury and it seems when healthy, he should be a healthy scratch – at least for the time being – due to the productivity on the third line. This could all change within the next few weeks, but as of now, this third line is giving the B’s exactly what they needed to start the year and then some.
Julien is not even thinking about the decision of bringing in Soderberg yet, just waiting to see how things will pan out.
“I think it’s premature to talk about those things,” Julien said after Saturday’s victory. “When the time comes, I’ll deal with Carl being back in. They play well, he may come in for them. And it’s a long year. I can give you all the clichés that you want, but I think at the end of the day all you want is to see what kind of decision I’ll make and I’m certainly not about to make that decision now.”
Jordan Caron chimed in on the chemistry of his line and appreciates the abilities of his linemates.
“I think at that point we have so many good players you get used to playing with everybody,” Caron said. “It doesn’t matter with who you play, you get used to it pretty quick. They are two really smart players and right now I think our biggest thing is we’re really good on forechecks and second pucks so we just have to keep doing this.
“I think we feed off each other and that’s big. Reilly and Kells are really doing a good job in the fore check right now. We’re fast on the ice and make sure we put a lot of pressure on their Ds and I think that’s been enough right now.”
It will be very interesting to see the road Julien takes in handling this situation when Soderberg is healthy (he did skate prior to practice today in Wilmington, but did not take part in drills), but it is a very good problem to have with a talent like Soderberg waiting in the wings.