On Thursday the Boston Bruins had their first full team skate as they took to the ice for training camp. The Bruins have had some turn over (almost entirely up front), and have also welcomed back many familiar faces. With expectations high for the 2013-2014 NHL season, the next couple of weeks will serve as the first glimpse of what many hope will once again be a championship caliber group.
There are plenty of storylines to get into to be sure, but Thursday's skate had enough surprises (albeit early ones) to get people talking. With five of the six defensive spots secure, the attention of fans and media alike will shift to the forwards, where things haven' quite started out as some may have expected.
1) The First Line: David Krejci-Milan Lucic-Jarome Iginla
The Bruins don't necessarily have a super-designated first line as say a team like the Anaheim Ducks do (think about Perry, Ryan and Getzlaf together), but they do have two very strong scoring lines. In terms of pure talent this trio above might have a slight edge. The biggest difference maker is center David Krejci. The Czech native brings a level of finess and skill with the puck that should allow newcomer Jarome Iginla to fit right in.
2) The Second Line: Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand-Louis Erikkson
Like we said, this line be a shade less skillful then the so-called first group, but what they lack in dexterity they certainly make up for with toughness around the net. Bergeron was already the do it all center, and Marchand was the clutch pest, but the new cog is Louis Eriksson. The former Star is a different player than the departed Tyler Seguin, but given his consistency in finding the back of the net, that might not be such a bad thing.
For this bunch there were more than a few surprises to go around. Kelly, one of the club's assistant captains has always been a stalwart (for better and worse) of this line, but the other two, well, not so much. Caron has had a lot of time to prove his worth, and with his disappointing level of play up to this point in his career, it's fair to assume that this is his last shot at solidifying a roster spot for the future.
Many, including this site, believed that with the nature of his contract (3 years), that Carl Sodderberg would also be a strong candidate for the club's third unit. Instead, it is young forward Riley Smith, who came to Boston as part of the Tyler Seguin trade. Smith was one of the best college players in the U.S at Miami of Ohio, scoring near a point per game. Reports indicate that Smith really clicked with Kelly, so this situation bears attention going forward.
4) The Fourth Line: Gregory Campbell*-Shawn Thornton- Daniel Paille
The asterisk is of course added because Campbell is recovering from a broken leg. That being said, when Campbell returns, this unit is the one that has played together the most consistently. Unless someone really blows management out of the water, and clicks with Paille and Thornton, don't expect much of a change here.
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