Bruins need more offense from second and third lines
WINNIPEG — Claude Julien has few complaints regarding the play of first-liners Brad Marchand, David Backes, and David Pastrnak, who have scored all seven of the Bruins’ goals. Julien has approved of the contributions from his fourth line of Dominic Moore, Riley Nash, and Noel Acciari.
The Bruins coach, however, is not satisfied with how his second and third lines have played. David Krejci, centering Ryan Spooner and Danton Heinen, has one assist through two games. Austin Czarnik, who suffered a concussion in the preseason finale, has yet to record an NHL point while centering Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes.
“The lines in between, you’re hoping you can get a little bit more,” Julien said. “In Austin’s case, since he’s come back from the injury, he hasn’t quite been the same player. You hope he can find his stride again. Beleskey and Hayes have played hard. But no results. Right now, we probably need a little more from the Krejci line. You’ve got enough skill there that you hope it can give you a little more offense.”
The second line is feeling the trickle-down effect of Patrice Bergeron’s absence. Backes, the fill-in No. 1 center, was projected to be Krejci’s right-side man. But Bergeron missed the first two games and could sit out a third straight because of a lower-body injury. Bergeron has been skating in Boston, according to Julien, and has not been ruled out of Monday’s finale of the three-game road trip. But given the logistics of traveling to Winnipeg (no direct flights from Boston), it’s unlikely Bergeron will be present at MTS Centre.
So with Backes filling the spot between Marchand and Pastrnak, Krejci is playing with a center-turned-wing in Spooner and a rookie in Heinen — playing his off side, no less.
“It feels like we’ve been trying to do someone else’s job and not sticking with what we have to do as individuals on the ice,” Krejci said. “This time of the year, we’ve got to stay patient and keep working hard. It’s going to come.”
The line’s first shortcoming has been a shortage of puck possession. Spooner, Krejci, and Heinen have not been able to apply their pace and skill because they’ve been chasing the puck instead of controlling it. On the occasions they’ve had the puck in the offensive zone, the three forwards have been one-and-done from the perimeters instead of creating chances in more dangerous areas. It hasn’t helped that none of the three excels in down-low grinding.
“For us as a line now, we’ve got to have someone who gets in front of the net,” Spooner said. “I think the three of us are kind of used to being the set-up guy on our line. I think one of us just needs to get to the front of the net. That should help for sure.”
Rask good to go
Tuukka Rask did not feel right after trying to stop a shot against Columbus on Thursday. But Rask, who backed up Anton Khudobin in Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Toronto, said he feels fine to return to the crease against the Jets.
“Just a little sore,” Rask said of his status against the Maple Leafs. “Dobby was going to play one game on this trip. That was the plan. So we decided it was better for him to play yesterday and I’ll be back at it tomorrow.”
Backes logs first fight
Backes recorded his first fight as a Bruin on Saturday when he challenged Nazem Kadri after Toronto’s first goal. Backes cut up his right hand on Kadri’s visor, but was fine to finish the game. “I thought they were carrying the play,” Backes said. “They were taking it to us in our zone most of the shifts. Down one goal, try to get the guys riled up and give us a little bit of momentum back the other way. I don’t think it quite had the effect I was looking for. But those are things that are going to happen throughout the year. I think a response, building off that, and binding together when we need a guy who does that, we’ll see how it goes moving forward.” Of Backes’s 83 penalty minutes last year, 15 came via fights against Kadri, Jonathan Toews, and Jamie Benn . . . One game after seeing Auston Matthews, the first pick from 2016, the Bruins will play No. 2 selection Patrik Laine. The left wing averaged 19:03 of ice time over his first two games, most of any rookie forward. Laine should be seeing a lot of Brandon Carlo, who is averaging 20:09 of ice time per game, third-most among rookie defensemen after Zach Werenski and Nikita Zaitsev . . . Khudobin, Czarnik, Heinen, Hayes, Tim Schaller, and Joe Morrow were the only players to practice Sunday.