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Bruins still looking for answers at third line center spot

Bruins still looking for answers at third line center spot
Published On: Tue, Oct 09
Apr 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) presents linesman Andy McElman (90) a jersey before the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins. Andy McElman was working his 1500th NHL game and his last one at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Almost a week into the regular season, the Bruins are still scrambling to figure out whata€™s going to work for them in the middle of their third line.

Youngsters Jack Studnicka. Trent Frederic and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson showed in training camp that they werena€™t quite ready for prime time right now, but could very well be in the near future. Sean Kuraly won the third line center job of out of training camp seemingly by default after being injured for most of the preseason, and had just a single shot on goal in each of the first two games without much in the way of offense from the third line.

The Bruins freely admitted heading into the season that they werena€™t quite sure what theya€™d get out of Kuraly offensively in a higher spot in the lineup, but the only way of knowing was to play it out during the regular season.

a€œI dona€™t know,a€ said Cassidy. a€œThata€™s part of the experiment. Hea€™ll give you effort and hea€™ll possess pucks. Being on the third line wona€™t affect his defensive game. [Riley Nash], we werena€™t sure on either. Therea€™s a little bit of growing pains there and we understand that. What we need to make sure is that our two two lines are up to speed and our power play is producing. Then the bottom two lines give us good puck possession and hard-to-play-against minutes and then let their offensive game grow.a€

At the end of the day, it might just be that Kuraly is a solid fourth line center and thata€™s going to be his station in life at the NHL level. Thata€™s certainly still a pretty good place to be if youa€™re Kuraly.

So now Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is tinkering with 34-year-old David Backes in the middle between Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork on his wings. It could be an interesting mix with the big, strong and veteran Backes in the middle calling the shots and setting the tone for the line, and Heinen and Bjork freed to use their speed and skill while being protected a bit by their big center in the middle.

Read the complete news article here...

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