BOSTON (CBS) – The Bruins roster as constituted is good enough to compete for a Stanley Cup, but after a disappointing second round exit minor changes are coming, and the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa believes you have to start with the Merlot line.
Fluto joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show Tuesday morning to weigh in.
Historically, the fourth line in the NHL has been the high-energy, heavy, “crash and bang” line. But those days are long gone according to Shinzawa. In a recent column of his, Shinzawa argues that the Chicago Blackhawks have the gold standard of what a fourth line should be in the modern NHL.
“The Blackhawks really emphasize speed, puck possession, creativity, high-tempo, thinking — we saw that last year in the Cup finals and we’re seeing it again this year,” said Fluto.
If the Bruins were to follow the Blackhawks model, they already have the pieces in place throughout the organization.
“I think, just given the way things ended with the Bruins, and specifically their fourth line, [the Blackhawks model] is the way they’re going. They have organizational depth. They have players with skill: Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev are two examples of centerman down in Providence who are fast, skilled, creative, cerebral. That’s the way they’re going.
“I don’t see Shawn Thornton back. Gregory Campbell had a tough year. Maybe some team looks at Daniel Paille and thinks he can be a good third line player. I think this is the end for the Bruins fourth line,” said Shinzawa.
Shinzawa went on to say that he appreciates all that Campbell has done for the Bruins, but they can be better in that spot and maybe the Bruins can trade him to a team with less depth that views him as a third line center.
It’s easy to point the finger at the bottom line guys, but more blame should go to the Bruins’ first and second line, who struggled to consistently produce throughout this postseason.
As far as that goes, Shinzawa says it all starts with Jarome Iginla, who turns 37 in July. The Bruins would like to have the future Hall of Famer back, but only on a one-year, incentive-laden deal that allows them to be creative with the cap. After a 30-goal season, some team will likely offer more years and more money than that, which will complicate matters for the Bruins.
Although David Krejci was goalless throughout the postseason, Shinzawa says the Bruins still hold him, as well as Milan Lucic, in high regard.
Another situation the Bruins are faced with is Johnny Boychuk.
The defenseman is due for a big pay day next summer, and the Bruins already have young blue liners in Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller in line for raises. When you factor in Dennis Seidenberg under contract and returning, the B’s may be unwilling to go that extra mile for Boychuk.
In conclusion, Shinzawa believes only a “refresh” is needed for the Bruins — not wholesale changes.
“The Bruins are a very good team with a very good coach. You’ve got three players in [Tuukka] Rask, [Patrice] Bergeron and [Zdeno] Chara among the best at their positions. Milan Lucic is probably the best power forward in the game. You’ve got 25 other general managers who’d kill for this kind of roster.
“I’d like to see more skill on the fourth line and more puck possession — not just chasing the game like we saw throughout the playoffs. More skill and more mobility on the back end. … Just a few tweaks. Just refresh, tweak here and there, and get a little faster and more skilled. They’ll be fine.”
Listen below for the full discussion: