BOSTON (CBS) – In the battle to win the right-wing job vacated by the retirement of Mark Recchi, Rich Peverley has struck the early blow. With the type of chemistry center Patrice Bergeron and left winger Brad Marchand enjoy, they’re probably going to stick together this season. They just need a third linemate.
Peverley is among a group that includes Tyler Seguin and Benoit Pouliot as lead candidates in the competition for Recchi’s old job. With a goal and two assists in the Bruins’ 6-3 preseason win over the New York Islanders at TD Garden Friday night, the other players in that competition are now officially at least a step behind.
Peverley credited the brief shifts he took with Bergeron and Marchand during last year’s playoffs when Recchi needed a shift or two off for the instant magic the newly formed trio worked against the Isles. He knew exactly what he needed to do to make the line a success.
“Bergy makes great plays, and so does Marchy, so I just read off of them and try to use my speed,” said Peverley. “They’re great players, so we want to keep continuing to get chances.”
Peverley scored 18 goals combined with the Bruins and Atlanta last year following a 22-goal season with the Thrashers in 2009-10. He definitely has the offensive ability to make the Bergeron line potent enough, and his work on the power play shows he can be responsible enough for times when head coach Claude Julien uses that line in a checking role.
He does things differently than Recchi, but Marchand’s already figured that out.
“Rex was very smart and he knew exactly where to go,” said Marchand, who scored a goal and added an assist in the victory. “He liked to be in the front of the net though and we knew that. And we just kind of did our thing in the corners and took it to the net and Rex was there to bang it in. Pevs, he’s very creative and he’s quick and smart with the puck. So it just adds another dynamic to our line. Three quick guys out there and we all like to play with the puck so we’re in a pretty good place.”
In Pouliot, the Bruins have a sizeable (6-foot-3, 199 pounds) veteran who hasn’t lived up to his potential yet after he was once the fourth overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Seguin, of course, is still finding his way in the NHL as a 19-year-old. While he features plus speed and a laser-like wrist shot, his desire in the dirty areas and his skill in his own zone still need improvement.
So while the Bruins have only played two preseason games and there’s still a week and a half until the regular-season opener, Peverley might be the choice to ride shotgun with Bergeron and Marchand at the outset of the championship-defense campaign.
“I don’t know, it looked pretty good out there,” said Marchand. “Obviously he’s a great player and he had a great game [Friday] night and we seem to have some good chemistry. So I guess we’ll see.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operates TheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets.