Boston, MA - Through the first six games, the Bruins are starting to see consistent play from their top two lines.
Though Tyler Seguin only has an empty-netter to his repertoire (in addition to two shootout goals) and Brad Marchand admits he's still trying to find another gear, despite being tied for third on the team with four points (3-1), the second line has been clicking.
The top line with wingers Milan Lucic (2-2=4) and Nathan Horton (3-2=5), and anchored by David Krejci (1-5=6), has produced 15 points, while the second line of Seguin (1-2=3), Marchand (3-1=4) and Patrice Bergeron (3-1=4) has contributed 10 points to the B's 5-0-1 record.
Looking at the score sheet, two mainstays on the third line - Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly - haven't been putting up offensive numbers, but for the most part have being doing their jobs on the defensive side of the puck (we'll leave out Kelly's one pass that got picked off by Alexander Semin that led to a tying-goal for Carolina).
"Obviously there’s moments when where I can play better. That goal in Carolina was a mistake that I’d love to take back but I think it makes you better as a play and as a person going through things like that," said Kelly on his assessment of his play through the first six games.
"It makes it a lot easier when the team gets the two points. I think wherever I can help and wherever our line can help this team get the two points, then we’re doing our job."
Like any of the B's not seeing offensive output, both Peverley and Kelly wish they could be finding the back of the net more, but the duo (along with Tyler Seguin) know that the chances will come if they stick with it and keep protecting the puck in their own end.
"Like anything, you want to contribute offensively and this has happened before, I know to me and I’m sure to Rich and you gotta take care of your own end, said Kelly. "Those scoring chances and the goals, they’ll come. You just can’t focus on that or the rest of the game will suffer."
And the play of the third line, specifically Kelly and Peverley, has been getting consistently better each game. Peverley had a near breakaway opportunity against New Jersey and has been generating chances on the power play for the B's, including in the winding down third period of Tuesday night's battle with the Devils. With Chris Bourque out of the lineup tonight as a healthy scratch, No. 49 may seem some added time on the man-advantage.
"I think we’ve had more offensive presence and we had some pretty good scoring chances," Kelly said on his line getting closer to offensive production. "And we held onto the puck a little bit more, so it’s been a little bit better."
That strong puck possession has come as a result of high faceoff win percentages - something characteristic of the entire Bruins roster, which leads the league with a faceoff win percentage of 60.7-percent.
Against New Jersey, Kelly won nine of 13 draws (69-percent) and Peverley went 67-percent in the faceoff circle - winning two crucial draws in the defensive zone against Patrik Elias and Jacob Josefson on the penalty kill.
"Obviously there’s some skill and some technique to it, and some guys are obviously better than others at it," said Kelly on the importance of the faceoff. "Like a lot of aspects of the game, when you’re feeling good in the circle and you’re timings on that night, you’re doing well."
Having shown their strong defensive play and ability to gain possession, Coach Julien knows that his third line will eventually find the back of the net - and is not as worried about their current lack of offensive output on a team that has taken 11 of 12 points to start the season and has seen nearly every player on the team register at least one point and nine score at least one goal.
"He has been playing really well, he’s creating things, he’s gotten a lot of chances," said Coach Julien on the play of Peverley, who has had a team-leading nine shots on goal through the past two games."Right now, the only thing it hasn’t shown is the points on the score sheet."
"When you talk about competitiveness, he’s been a lot better. From the first couple of games to these last games that we’ve played, he’s been very good.
"So we’ve got to hope that he keeps playing that way. I think the results are going to follow soon."