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Insider Only Scouting the Bruins Forwards: Overall Depth and mix of skill, size could pose challenges for Penguins defensively

nhl_g_bergeron-cup01_576EARLY GLANCE AT PENGUINS – BRUINS
BRUINS PROJECTED LINES
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jaromir Jagr
Rich Peverley – Chris Kelly – Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton
SCOUTING THE BRUINS FORWARDS
The Penguins enter the Eastern Conference Finals regarded as a slight favorite over the Boston Bruins but the Penguins have a tough test ahead of them in trying to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in six years.
In Boston, the Penguins have not faced a team yet this post-season with the type of depth upfront the Bruins possess in the ability to roll four lines, a No. 1 shutdown defenseman in Zdeno Chara, something the Islanders and Senators both lacked, and a team with Championship experience that knows how to win, the Bruins just two years removed from winning the Stanley Cup.
“They’re a big team,” Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “Obviously won a Stanley Cup. They know how to win. They’re just really, really disciplined and really well coached.”
The biggest question mark for any team facing the Penguins this post-season is whether at the end of the day if they have enough scoring punch to take four of seven games from the Penguins?.
It’s a daunting task but Boston brings to the table one of the most complete lineups in hockey upfront with a great mix of size, strength and skill throughout their four lines that could pose problems for the Penguins defensively . Like the Penguins, the Bruins are strong down the middle, and have skill and grit on all four lines.
What initially stands out with the Bruins this post-season has been the play of No. 1 center David Krejci (5G-12A-17Pts-+9), leading the NHL playoffs in points with 17, and power forwards Milan Lucic (3G-7A-10Pts-+9) and Nathan Horton (5G-7A-12Pts-+14) finally getting to their games in the post-season after both underachieved greatly in the regular season.
Lucic with a team-high 55 hits, is back to playing with the type of intensity and fire in his game that makes him one of the intimidating forwards in the game, while Horton is peaking at the right time with 5 goals and 12 points in the playoffs.
“Those two guys in particular, they look like they’re going pretty good right now,” Orpik said of Lucic and Horton. Orpik earlier this year called Lucic one of the most difficult forwards to play against along with Rick Nash and Alexander Ovechkin.
Lucic, Krejci and Horton have combined for 39 points and a plus-32 rating in 12 games.
The Bruins come at you with a second line of Brad Marchand (2G-7A-9Pts-+1), Patrice Bergeron (3G-4A-7Pts-+1) and either Jaromir Jagr (0G-4A-4Pts–2) or Tyler Seguin (1G-3A-4Pts–2) on the right side.
Bergeron is one of the games best two-way centers who frustrates the opposition because of his defensive play, and ability in the faceoff circle (63.5% on faceoffs), but he is also a well rounded offensive player.
“He gets the big responsibility on the matchup situation for other teams top lines, Krejci line is also a good line in that regard, but Bergeron stymieing right from the faceoffs to his ability to play on both sides of the puck, he’s a patient guy, a guy who doesn’t go looking for his offense, or tries to find chances to go for offense,” Bylsma said. “He’s a real patient guy, plays on the defensive side of the puck, fits well in that matchup role wise, but is a guy who has skill and ability to make that play, make that big play and does that for his team. He’s a tough guy to play against, a lot of times frustration he builds in opposition is where he does eventually get his offense from and timely scoring for his team,” Bylsma said.
Marchand is a player who brings it every night and is the type of player you win championships with. After an 18 goal, 36 point regular season, Marchand has 2 goals and 9 points in 12 games and he scores big goals in key situations. During the Bruins Stanley Cup run in the 2011 post-season, Marchand had 11 goals and 19 points in 25 games.
What to watch for in the series for this line is going to be whether Jagr or Seguin breaking out offensively, were the two to alternate on the second and third line right wing spots. Jagr has no goals and just 4 assists in 12 playoff games, while the dynamic Seguin has just 1 goal and 3 assists this post-season.
For Jagr who is slowing down offensively as we’re nearing June, does he have one more big series left in him? The future Hall of Famer had a goal and 5 assists against the Penguins in last years first round series with the Philadelphia Flyers.
“He definitely has got game,” Bylsma said of Jagr. Down low he is still a force with the puck offensively, tough guy to take the puck off of. Ability there in watching him last night, I don’t look at birth certificates, he might be 40 years old. Still has power play {ability} coming off flanker, coming off half wall, ability there…… puck protection down low, big factor on that line. Yes he’s still got game.”
While the Bruins have two formidable top-2 lines, it’s their depth on the third and fourth lines that overwhelmed the Rangers last series.

“Boston Bruins have had some success in the playoffs last couple years, obviously won a Stanley Cup and they’ve been noted for their depth throughout lineup, being able to roll four lines, have the fourth line be a contributing line and an effective line and they have a good structure to their team,” Bylsma said of the Bruins.
A player who doesn’t get a lot of notoriety is third line center Chris Kelly (0G-0A-0Pts–6) who is one of the most under-rated third line centers in hockey, despite his lack of offensive production in the post-season. “They have Krejci, Bergeron and Kelly on third line, a real good third line,” Bylsma said. “That depth throughout their team, been very good with that group throughout.”
The Bruins are a team that thrives on a puck possession game in the offensive zone and they are very strong in the faceoff circle with Patrice Bergeron (63.5%) and Chris Kelly (63.4%).

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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