Third line setting the tone for the Bs
Arguably, the main reason for the Bruins’ turnover came on January 1, when David Pastrnak was removed from the first and placed on a second unit with Erik Haula and Taylor Room.
But not too far behind that move came a little later in February, when the big physical third line of Charlie Coyle between Craig Smith and Thirty Frederick has been created.
He was formed a bit out of necessity in a time when the B’s were without the two Patrick Bergeron (head laceration) and Brad Merchant (suspension), but it’s a three-headed beast. Since forming, the trio have beaten their opponents 13-2 5-5. It’s the kind of hard, heavy line the Bs have been trying to create for a few years now, giving them a dimension they didn’t have. had.
“I think it was last year that we started playing early and we had instant chemistry. And in all the weeks that we played together, played this long with the same guys, you understand more and more their games. So we’re learning more and more about each other, their tendencies, where they’re going to be, where I’m going to be. So it all becomes second nature and you kind of just play. You know where everyone world is going to be and it just clicks. We use that to our advantage and talk a lot. We get along pretty well. None of us are too talkative, but when we come back to the bench we always, always take some positive and I think that’s huge… And it’s also a work in progress. We want to continue to build our game because we know how important we can be for our team and have another line that can contribute, score and also be responsible.
On several occasions, the line has also served to set the tone for the team. In their first game together in Ottawa on Feb. 12, they started the game with a dominant change and punctuated it with a goal from Frederic after 45 seconds of play.
The line got the ball rolling for the Bs in their Saturday win over the Islanders early in the first period. Coyle shoved the defender Adam Pelech – not an easy task – and sent a high pass to Brandon Carlo. Smith finished it when the carom was taken off the end boards of Carlo’s shot.
“The Ottawa one comes to mind very quickly,” Coyle said. “It won’t always be so good of a change where we do all the right things and we score. But it gave us the kick-off. We were like ‘OK, this is what we are capable of doing’. And to do it right away and feel great after your first shift, you’re physically engaged. You are focused right away. You don’t dip your toe in and see how it goes. We just play our game, bring it to them and play the way we know how to play. This is what our team expects of us every night.
While Coyle and Smith were established NHL players, Frederic was a bit of a wild card. He made an immediate impact last season when he was slotted into the roster and was mostly a disruption ready to drop the gloves. It was fun to watch for a while, but its overall effectiveness quickly diminished. Now he’s making legitimate contributions to wins with deliberate early check and physique.
For Coyle, it was all about finding his comfort zone.
“We were all young guys coming into this league at some point and you try to find your way, you try to solidify your place in the roster. And him coming in and playing a fourth line role, maybe in and out of the line, it’s hard to play the way you know how to play,” Coyle said. “He’s been a good player all his life and in college. In the pro game, it’s a bit different. You just have to find your way. Right now we’re just gelling and he has more confidence in his game. He’s able to play the way he’s able to play. He is confident. You can tell that’s a big difference. And he is so capable of it. I did the same thing and I’m still going through the same thing. You go through these different things and lulls, I guess, and you get your game back and gain confidence. I love playing with these two guys and we give each other confidence that way. It’s just awesome to see. He’s such a good boy and he’s a great hockey player. He has the courage, he has the skills, the size. Everything is here. It’s a complete package. That’s what you like to have on your team, these real hockey players, well balanced like that.
The Leafs’ PK is a weapon
The B’s faced a dangerous shorthanded test from the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Not only were Toronto fifth in the league in kills (84.2%), they led the league in shorthanded goals with 10. The Bs, meanwhile, were tied for eighth in the league in most shorthanded goals allowed with six, including shorties at fullback. -consecutive games last week against Montreal and Tampa.
“That (threat) is still there, especially with four strikers trying to score (for the Bs). I think for us, we did a good job this year until about a week ago in Montreal and it snowballed in Tampa,” the coach said. Bruce Cassidy. “Obviously some teams are more aggressive than others and Toronto certainly fits that bill. You’re trying to score, so sometimes there will be convergence on the net with four forwards and you’ll be outnumbered coming back the other way. For me, it’s puck management. It hurt us in those two games. that you can control. It’s up to the players to make the right decisions when entering the zone or re-entering the ice. It won’t always be perfect and sometimes you need that high end stop. But at the end of the day, this is where the breakdowns happen and we have to take this into account. I know a guy like (Mitch) Marner will hunt in the neutral zone for all entries and it goes the other way in a hurry. And they have some speed with (Ilya) Mikheev and (Pierre) Engval.”
Cassidy, born and raised in Canada’s capital, expressed his condolences to the Senators on the passing of the owner Eugene Melnyk.
“As an Ottawa man here, I’m always looking for the best for this organization. I know it’s a passionate fanbase and the Bruins send their deepest condolences,” Cassidy said….
Bergeron didn’t skate Tuesday morning, but Cassidy said it was a maintenance day and he was expected in the lineup against the Leafs.