Bruins' third line with Tyler Bertuzzi could be valuable come playoff time
Bruins' third line with Bertuzzi could be valuable come playoff time originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
BOSTON -- The Bruins had a new-look third line for Saturday afternoon's game against the New York Rangers at TD Garden, and the early returns were quite positive.
Tyler Bertuzzi, who the Bruins acquired from the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, slotted into the left wing spot on the third line next to Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic. With veteran left wing Taylor Hall on long-term injured reserve (LTIR), Bertuzzi could get plenty of ice time on this line.
How did Bertuzzi fit into the lineup during his debut Saturday?
"Just like we anticipated," Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said after his team's 4-2 victory.
"He's a hockey player, and he made a lot of plays ... He's really smart with his game management, too. He didn't force plays at all. We put him in knowing that he likes to forecheck, and his linemates like to forecheck."
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The Bertuzzi-Coyle-Frederic line got the Bruins on the scoreboard late in the first period. Bertuzzi dumped the puck into an area where Frederic could retrieve it. Frederic tossed the puck behind the net, where Bertuzzi raced to corral it before making a great pass out front to Coyle for a Grade A scoring chance.
Coyle beat Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin to put the Bruins up 1-0 with 1:26 remaining in the period.
"I knew two guys were coming to me, so I saw Coyle coming down the pike there and it got through, and I knew he was going to have a good look," Bertuzzi said of his pass from behind the net. "It worked out well."
Montgomery said he's going to tinker with his lines a bit as he searches for the best combinations to take into the playoffs, but there's no question that a third line of Bertuzzi, Coyle and Frederic could be something special. This trio played 6:43 of 5-on-5 ice time together Saturday and held the Rangers to just three shot attempts, one shot on net, one scoring chance and zero goals scored during those minutes, per Natural Stat Trick.
"Yeah, I thought we played simple and pretty well," Bertuzzi said of his line's performance. "I'll do whatever. I'm just here to win hockey games and wherever I play, that's where I play."
Coyle is the engine that drives the third line. He's a hard guy to knock off the puck with his 6-foot-3 and 220-pound frame. He has tremendous puck skills, he plays an intelligent two-way game and he will provide valuable scoring depth, too. He has one goal and three assists in the last four games.
"He's a smart, good center," Bertuzzi said about Coyle. "He's very easy to play with. He's always in the right spots. He's always covering for me and Frederic. I thought it worked out pretty well."
The Bertuzzi-Coyle-Frederic combo has all the makings of a classic checking line in the playoffs. These guys are hard to play against, they are strong defensively and they create turnovers with an aggressive forecheck.
The sample size is obviously very small so far, but it would be wise of Montgomery to give this line more ice time over the final 20 games of the regular season to see if this chemistry is for real.