Bruins Move Byron Bitz to First Line


November 24, 2009

He wasn't the most likely candidate to be slotted alongside Marc Savard on the Bruins' top line on Monday night, but Byron Bitz earned a spot to play with the B's biggest scoring threat.

Bitz hasn't exactly been an offensive force this season with just four points in 20 games, but the front office believes Bitz will elevate his play, and in time, some offense will follow for the 6-foot-5 forward.

"It will be interesting to see how he does with a playmaker like
Savard," Cam Neely told The Boston Globe. "His game will have to change a little bit to
play with a guy like Savard, but you don?t want him to feel like he?s
got to, all of a sudden, become a goal scorer. Goal scorers usually
score in every league, all the way up. Rarely does somebody become a
goal scorer at this level. But he can certainly take advantage of his
size and strength and get opportunities by going to those dirty areas."

Bitz's sense for the game and defensive abilities are what got him to the NHL, as did his mentality to slow down the game. His greatest quality has been his understanding of what he is and isn't capable of doing with the puck, and it's the reason he is getting an increased role on a new line.

"What he?s done — and there are other players who could take notice —
is that he?s kept his game very simple," Neely told the Globe. "He doesn?t try
to do more than he should. He?s been very smart with protecting the
puck, getting the puck out, and getting it in. Obviously his confidence
has risen over time. He?s just a smart player."

In Bitz's first game on the first line, he was unable to get his name on the score sheet with a goal or assist, but the big bruiser did manage to go toe-to-toe with the Blues' Barret Jackman. More importantly, the Bruins extended their winning streak to three games and have yet to lose with Bitz on the top line. 

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