The Big Bad Bruins.
This Friday the Red Wings open up their first round series in Boston at TD Garden. Thankfully, NBC has given us pretty much an entire work week to dissect and break down the Bruins lineup. So what better place to start than up front with the forwards. It could be argued that, when healthy, Boston has the deepest lineup in the entire league. Living in Boston and working closely with the team, I'd say that argument would be correct. We've always loved that the Wings of old could roll four lines and dominate the competition. The 2013-14 Boston Bruins have the ability to do just that.
The Bruins top line has done the most damage this season. Lucic and Krejci have been playing together on a line for years. Iginla replaced Nathan Horton on this line at the beginning of the year. This line is made up of three of the Bruins top four scorers. You pretty much get what you expect from this crew too. Lucic is going to play a physical game. Krejci is going to be the set up guy. Iginla is going to score the goals. Now, those might be their roles on the surface, but all three have the ability to score and set each other up. Krejci is a good two-way forward. Iginla and Lucic are not anywhere near being amazing two way players, but they know their roles in Claude Julien's system and are not a liability.
Much like Lucic and Krejci, the LW-C combination on the Bruins second line has played together for quite some time. Marchand and Bergeron are the constants on this line while the RW has changed a few times. Back in 2011, Mark Recchi was the man. Tyler Seguin commandeered the spot the previous two seasons. Now, Smith has taken the ball and run with it. Brendan's little brother was a throw in from Dallas in the Seguin trade last summer. He's blossomed into a real solid player. He seems like that guy that can (and will) excel at any role given. Ask him to play top six and he's not out of place. Ask him to play bottom six and he could do that too. As far as Bergeron goes, we know what he is. He's the second best two way forward in this series (only because Henrik Zetterberg is injured). He's a damn good player that will shut you down and then score on you. Marchand? He's a rat. Don't get me wrong. He has some skill… but he's a rat. He's going to try to get under the Wings skin and agitate them. He's like a dirty version of Luke Glendening, but he can actually play hockey.
First and foremost, if the Bruins are healthy come Friday, this will be the 3rd line. Right now, Kelly has missed the last three games with back spams. He's day-to-day. This line really started to click when Soderberg got comfortable with his game in the NHL (He played in the SHL last season). He's a big swede. If you visit Stanley Cup of Chowder, they like to PLAY LIKE CARL. He's a favorite over there. Kelly is defensively responsibly. He can chip in offensively every now and then too. Eriksson, we all know from his days with the Stars. He was penciled in to be the right winger on the 2nd line at the start of the year, and if you ask me, his season has kind of been disappointing. His 37 points in 61 games is underwhelming. Granted, he's had a few concussions this season and hasn't been asked to carry the load as much as he had to in Dallas, but I guess I just expected more. Overall though, it's a very solid 3rd line that could give the Wings some fits depending on the personnel deployed against them.
They call this group the Merlot Line (that's the color of their practice jerseys). Like the 3rd line, this group is dealing with some injuries as well. Paille got rocked by a clean hit against the Sabres on Saturday. He's officially listed as day-to-day, but he was clearly not right in the head if you saw him get up after the hit. He's already had a few concussions this season too. If healthy, Paille is an excellent penalty killer. Campbell is also useful on the PK. A solid grinding centerman. Together those two are good 4th liners. They're the kind of guys you'd want in your bottom six. Think Drew Miller but with less grey hair. As far as Thornton goes, he's useless in this series (and in general). The Wings won't fight. Not sure what he's going to do out there.
These guys will the healthy scratches and/or injury replacements. Caron is just kind of there. He doesn't do anything great. He doesn't do anything super awful. He's been given a million chances to stick in this lineup and make an impact and he's failed to grab a job every time. Caron has the most experience of these two though. Spooner is small and quick. His skill is better than Caron's. His upside is greater too.
Let's Go Red Wings.