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Bruins’ Third Line Woes

Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

After a tough loss in game 4, the Bruins bounced back with a victory in game 5 over the New York Rangers to win the series 4-1. The Bruins did not play particularly well in game four, but one positive thing that we saw was Tyler Seguin playing his best game of the postseason. Seguin, who has struggled for the majority of the playoffs, finally showed up on the scoresheet with a goal and an assist.

This is a great sign for the Bruins if Seguin can get going. Both of his points came on the very successful power play, which is something for fans to get excited about. The one negative thing to take from the series is that the third line still continues to struggle, more specifically Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.

Regular Season

This has not been a good season at all for Kelly and Peverley, both players were re-signed this past offseason to contracts that many people questioned. Both are great role players who bring a lot to the Bruins locker room, and have had productive seasons in the past. The Bruins struggled with consistency all season, and though this is not all due to the third line, that line was highlighted to be one of the biggest issues all season. Kelly, who missed some time with a knee injury, had nine points and was a minus eight in 34 games. This is a huge fall of from last season when he had 39 points and was a plus 33. Rich Peverley was not much better in 2013 with 18 points and a minus nine in 47 games. Claude Julien is notorious for sticking with his guys, but at what point do you start looking at other alternatives.

Playoffs

Through 12 games in the playoffs, the numbers have not improved. Kelly who has played in all 12 games has zero points and is a minus six. Peverley who has played in one less game has only one point, a goal against Toronto, and is a minus four. The Bruins had good success against the Rangers this postseason, but that third line has been the highlight of the troubles for this team.

Tyler Seguin was not playing much better, but he has showed signs in the Ranger series and finally scored in game 4. With Seguin starting to heat up, it is not going to help that his two linemates have been worse than invisible. Both Kelly and Peverley were a big part of the Cup in 2011, but this is a different year, and they have not been able to find that form they have had in previous years.

At what point do the Bruins consider making a change? The other three lines have been great, and if they can get all four lines clicking, the Bruins become a much scarier team in these playoffs.

With the struggles, it looks like it may be time to sit Kelly or Peverley and give a guy like Carl Soderberg a chance. The Soderberg move makes a lot of sense for the team with a need for third line offense. Soderberg is a center who can play the wing, just like both Peverley and Kelly. Tyler Seguin also can play some center, so there would be no issue in that sense. Soderberg, who led the Swedish Elite League in goals and was second in points, would bring a nice offensive boost to this line, and possibly help get a guy like Tyler Seguin going. The only risk involved in this is sitting a player who may be more responsible than Soderberg in the Bruins defensive zone. But that risk is minimal considering both players are minus players and more times than not, give up goals when they are on the ice.

With the success that the Bruins have had this postseason, many people do not want to mess with the lineup. But with the third line being such a glaring weakness, and with the potential scoring ability in a guy like Carl Soderberg, one move could make a big difference. If the Bruins third line could keep up with the top two lines, and the fourth line can be productive, the Bruins are an automatic favorite to make another Cup run and match up a lot better against the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins.

About Jared Smith - @shmity91

Freelance Production Assistant for Comcast Sportsnet and former New York Rangers intern. I have been a long life sports fan, and have always wanted to cover sports in the media or work in the front office for a team. Follow me on Twitter @ shmity91

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