Three Shillelaghs: Bruins’ Second Line Steps to Forefront

Three Shillelaghs: Bruins' Second Line Steps to Forefront A shillelagh (shuh-LAY-lee) is an Irish cane made of oak or blackthorn. It is often associated with good luck and given as a gift. Every week, James Murphy will award “Three Shillelaghs” for the three best stories of the Bruins’ week.

With the exception of the Bruins' 5-1 debacle in Montreal last Friday night, it has been quite the week for the Black and Gold. Here are the “Three Shillelaghs” for the week.

Marc Savard's Contract and the Impact on the Team’s Future

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli continues to prevent potential free agents from reaching that point. Yes, he admitted to the Boston Globe recently that the Phil Kessel negotiations "painted him into a corner" this past summer, but overall, Chiarelli has done a great job of keeping his core intact, and the recent Marc Savard signing is a perfect example.

Savard was sure to garner a megadeal on the open market as an unrestricted free agent this summer, but Chiarelli kept him from leaving by locking him up with a seven-year deal that will have a cap hit of $4.2 million per season.

During the news conference announcing the Savard deal, Chiarelli acknowledged that he didn’t always take this approach, but in the salary-cap era, it is imperative to start contract discussions as early as possible if a team wants to keep its stars.

“I think it’s something I’ve changed my stance on a little bit,” Chiarelli said. “It’s just a function of the salary cap and the younger free-agency years.’’

As Chiarelli pointed out, Savard and players who have taken less to stay with the Bruins also deserve credit. When potential Bruins free agents do this, it helps make Boston a destination for other potential free agents.

“It gives you the ability to build the team better, and that’s a credit to Marc,” Chiarelli added. “He takes a lower cap hit and helps keep the team together and helps build the team.

"It is refreshing, and everything Savvy does is with enthusiasm, and [the] same goes for his request to meet with me. It speaks to where we are as an organization and a city with fans of the Bruins.”

Marco Sturm-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi Line
This trio has been the hottest line for the Bruins and one of the best in the NHL over the last week. Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi have combined for 13 points in the Bruins’ last three games. They combined for eight points in the 4-1 win over the Lightning on Wednesday, were held scoreless in the loss to Montreal on Friday and then posted five more points in a 7-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

Bergeron (goal, four assists) had five points against Tampa Bay and Toronto, while Recchi (goal, three assists) and Sturm (three goals, one assist) had four each. They all seem to complement each other, and there clearly is a strong chemistry between them. Head coach Claude Julien usually doesn’t like to change anything that’s working, so expect this line to stay together until they go cold.

Claude Julien
Claude Julien wasn’t named the Jack Adams Award winner last season for nothing, and this season, he is proving once again that the voters made the right choice. He has kept his team afloat and in playoff contention through injuries to key players such as Savard, Milan Lucic and Tim Thomas.

This past weekend, he made a key coaching decision and lit a fire under his team prior to their 7-2 win over Toronto. Sensing his team needed a spark, Julien gave a moving pregame speech that motivated his players to bounce back from Friday’s embarrassing 5-1 loss at Montreal.

“One thing we had to do was to redeem ourselves,” Julien said. “I knew that this team that we were playing was going to be ready to play. They were here. They practiced, were well rested and were coming here to make a point. It was important for us to be ready to play our game. If you want to call it embarrassed for us to lose 5-1, it was embarrassment to us.

 “I think the importance for us was to come out and bounce back and have the type of game that we should have had [Friday] night,” Julien said. “We did that. It was important to show our character and determination, bouncing back from that bad outing.”

Julien also decided to take the struggling Matt Hunwick (two points in last 10 games) off the Bruins’ blue line for the Toronto game and inserted the seldom-used Johnny Boychuk into the lineup. The move panned out as Boychuk scored his first NHL goal and played a solid game on defense.

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