The Bruins have their work cut out for themselves in the Eastern Conference final, especially on the defensive end of the ice. With the top-line talent and speed — especially in the top six — that the Penguins possess, it may call on Bruins coach Claude Julien to juggle his lines some.
For the time being, however, it doesn’t look like Julien is going to make any changes. Tyler Seguin continues to skate on the club’s third line on the right wing with Chris Kelly centering Seguin and Rich Peverley. That’s where it looks like he’ll remain for now, with Jaromir Jagr skating in the spot Seguin originally occupied alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Seguin has just one goal and three assists in 12 playoff games. Those offensive issues, which have been talked about up and down, led Seguin to the third line where he currently finds himself.
His boss, despite Seguin’s issues to put points on the board, thinks the youngster is starting to come around.
“Yeah, I think Tyler’s been fine,” Julien told reporters after practice Wednesday. “If anything, he’s competed a lot harder. He’s battling, he’s in there. I think on the power play he?s made some good plays and he?s done a good job. I think right now, to me, that line in the last two games were better. They?re kind of, I think, getting to know each other a little bit better and finding each other on the ice a little bit easier. Today in practice, same thing, I saw the same thing. We know that that line is going to be an important line for us in the next round. But right now I see that line improving.”
There’s always the possibility things change. There’s reason to believe that Sidney Crosby‘s line — which the Bergeron line is expected to be checking — may be too quick for a line that features Jagr. If that is the case, it might make sense for Julien to swap Seguin and Jagr again, reuniting Seguin with his former linemates. For the time begin, though, the lines don’t appear to be changing, which Julien seems fine with.
“I think Richard can, offensively, have better numbers, there?s no doubt there,” Julien said. “And so can [Kelly]. They’ve shown that in the past. Basically, when you look back at a couple years ago, it was those two with [Michael] Ryder as an offensive guy. Tyler’s very capable of producing like Ryder did. It?s just a matter of getting that magic together and doing the stuff that they need to do to be better. Like I said, I thought the last couple games they started showing some things.
“They didn?t necessarily show up on the scoreboard, but I thought even Game 5 they spent a lot of time in the offensive zone, making some plays, making things happen. I?m encouraged by the direction that line has taken. If it mean that they become extremely good in the third round then that will certainly be a big boost for us.”
That line has combined for just 1-3-4 totals this postseason.
In a series where depth will be a vital key to winning the series, the Bruins have to hope that Seguin and the third line can get going.