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BOSTON (CBS) – The Bruins’ third line has been a disaster this season, with the exception of the last couple games since Jordan Caron was summoned from Providence to replace Chris Bourque.
In the games with Caron, the third line has been passable.
Now Chris Kelly goes down with a broken tibia, which will keep him out indefinitely, and every uninformed know-it-all is going to demand a trade. And they won’t be satisfied with an acquisition of a player similar to Kelly; they’re going to scream for Jarome Iginla or something sexier to fill in the Bruins’ lineup.
Well, general manager Peter Chiarelli has never panicked and mortgaged the farm, and the Kelly injury is no reason for the GM to start now. The Bruins are sitting with a 17-4-3 record, and they shouldn’t do anything that could shake up the chemistry they’ve worked so hard to create.
Kelly’s an extremely valuable piece of a team that relies on him to win faceoffs, kill penalties, be a leader and, occasionally, chip in offensively. Getting him back for the playoffs would be a major boost to the Bruins’ chances.
But Boston just might have enough on hand to get by without him. As he showed Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, Rich Peverley has no problem sliding over and playing center. He won a great majority of his faceoffs and was maybe as active as he’s been all season creating on the offensive end. Plus his penalty killing didn’t tail off.
In Caron, the Bruins have a first-round pick whose development has been slowed here and there by injuries and some adjustments. He looks ready to blossom and he’s your typical “Bruins” player with his physicality and dedication to detail and defense.
Now Jay Pandolfo might not be the long-term answer for a third member of that line. That’s where Daniel Paille, who’s already scored five goals this season, comes in. A line of Paille, Peverley and Caron might be just as effective as that line with Kelly in the middle. With Pandolfo and Lane MacDermid around to fill out the fourth line, the Bruins shouldn’t miss a beat.
Remember, the Bruins are near the top of the standings without getting much from their third line or their first line. If Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci can find their game sometime soon, the Bruins could be even better. Then any production you get out of the third line would be gravy.
If you factor in the potential for a young player like Ryan Spooner to come up and maybe give the team a jolt, the Bruins have options. Chiarelli has a few weeks to see how his in-house solutions perform and see how the trade market shapes up. There are only about five or six “sellers” in the league right now. Prices will be sky-high.
The Bruins should show a little faith in Peverley and Caron and the rest to motor on without Kelly and continue to stay away from that panic button.