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  • Simplicity key for Bruins surging fourth line

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    Simplicity key for Bruins surging fourth line

    Sara Civian January 4, 2018

    Nothing at all seemed different about Noel Acciari after the Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Wednesday. His linemates Tim Schaller and Sean Kuraly? Business per usual.

    The gritty fourth line’s identity remains unchanged, too.

    “I think we’re simple-minded when it comes to playing right now,” Acciari said. “I think it’s just get pucks deep, get pucks to the net and just kinda be hard to play against.”

    But something is undeniably different. The line, which hasn’t yet adopted a clever nickname, has been “just kinda hard to play against” since it was assembled, and that’s been giving Boston’s stars a breather against some of the NHL’s best lines. The difference now is the Bruins fourth line has been consistently showing up on the scoresheet with a goal in three consecutive games, including two goals in their 5-1 win over the Islanders Tuesday night.

    The grind line’s recent surge in offensive production is reflective of recent full-team depth, and it’s a result of consistency and familiarity — luxuries that weren’t available with the team’s early-season injury bug.

    “Injuries killed us in the beginning but now we’re all healthy and we’ve had the last month to get to know each other as linemates again,” Acciari said. “I think it’s starting to show right now, and I think every line is starting to click really well… I think we’re going to keep rolling like that.”

    Acciari’s philosophy resonates with his former Providence teammate Schaller, who recorded a goal and assist in Brooklyn.

    “We just keep it simple,” he said. “We all have the same game and work off each other pretty well…my game’s always been that same way. With every shift we build confidence, other guys see that and build off of that. So if we don’t score, someone else will.”

    The line’s chemistry is a reminder of the trickle-down, teamwide effect injuries can have — not only were the Bruins without the injured players, but the healthy players had to fill the gaps.

    Kuraly said just knowing who he’s playing with and how they play has been crucial.

    “It’s still early on in my career, [with] new buildings, new teams…to have the same guys on your wings is something I think really helps,” he said. “…We’ve got a clear idea of what each other are going to be doing. I think that’s our job — we have to be ready to play in all situations and be able to be counted on so that’s what we’re kind of trying to provide, a line that can go on the ice and push the game in the right direction for us.”

    None of the three were scouted as goal scorers, and nothing about that is going to change in the foreseeable future. The goals they’ve scored have been a result of their simplicity, not despite it.

    “Anything [directed] at the net’s got a chance to go in,” Kuraly summed it up — his shot that set up Schaller’s goal Tuesday was actually intended to be rebounded.

    With the line’s recent success, it might be time to make it official with a nickname. How about ASK? It seems head coach Bruce Cassidy can just ask these three to do whatever it is the Bruins might need — make hits, make plays and, apparently, score goals.

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