Julien: Dominic Moore ‘deserves the most credit’ for fourth-line resurgence

Julien: Dominic Moore ‘deserves the most credit’ for fourth-line resurgence

BOSTON -- If things were a little different for the Boston Bruins, perhaps it would pique their interest when a former good B’s soldier like Gregory Campbell has become available after having his contract terminated by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But the Bruins have ably filled that fourth line center role on their roster this season with Dominic Moore, who has given the Black and Gold much, much more than they could have hoped for when they made him a late summer free agent signing. Moore has been excellent for the Black and Gold providing secondary scoring (tied with David Backes for third on the team with seven goals scored), steady face off work, top shelf penalty killing and now has worked himself into power play time as a net-front presence for Boston.

That part in and of itself has been impressive given that the 6-foot, 192-pound forward is getting the call as the front of the net guy over 6-foot-6 power forward Jimmy Hayes.

“[Moore] has done it before and he’s smart. He may not be the biggest body for the front of the net, but we’re getting some shots and he’s willing to go to the front of the net,” said Julien. “It’s okay to have a big body, but if that big body can’t find loose pucks then there is inefficiency there. He’s a smaller body, but he’s able to find pucks a little bit better. Loose puck retrieval is what we’re looking for, so we’re giving him a try right now.”

Needless to say it’s been a satisfying first few months for Moore in a Bruins uniform after always being something of a casual observer of the B’s while living in Boston during the offseason after his collegiate career at Harvard University. That isn’t to say that Moore is satisfied with his early work with the Black and Gold, and it’s clear that his drive to improve is why he’s still in the league after playing for ten different NHL teams over the years.

“Obviously we want to continue to improve individually, as a line and as a team. That’s what we’re always trying to do with a lot of moving parts at forward,” said Moore. “So we’re always prepared to kind of play with whomever, but we’ve been fortunate to make some things happen and make some plays.”

Combine all of the above with the fact that Moore has been the fourth line constant with a revolving door of wingers skating on either side of him, and the 36-year-old has been a considerable factor in the B’s current standing in a playoff spot.

“I think you have to give him a lot of credit for that [fourth] line because of the fact the wings have changed almost every game, or every second game. But the wings on that line have done a good job as well,” said Claude Julien. “Whether it’s Blidh, Schaller, Acciari and even Jimmy Hayes, as we all know played one of his best games in the last game, that line has helped us immensely, and Moore is the guy that deserves the most credit. To see the number of goals he’s got, that’s hard to find that with a guy that’s played mostly on the fourth line.”

Moore has been such an integral part of the fourth line this season for the Bruins, it’s tough to imagine the B’s getting anything better out of anybody else they could have possibly had in mind for that role prior to the season. 

Morning Skate: Talkin' B's as in Bruins, Backes, big game

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Morning Skate: Talkin' B's as in Bruins, Backes, big game

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting tired of the Friday news dumps.

*Here’s your Saturday morning hockey show on 98.5 the Sports Hub where yours truly, Billy Jaffe, Ryan Johnston, Bob Beers and Judd Sirott all talked Bruins, Ryan Donato, David Backes’ busy week and Boston’s big game against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight among other things.

*Alex Galchenyuk has been regaining his rhythm, speed and effectiveness for the Montreal Canadiens even as so many other things for them are spinning out of control.

*Braden Holtby has been one of a number of big-time NHL goalies that have struggled at times this season, but he may be getting his mojo back for the Washington Capitals.

*It looks like there’s never been a better time to be an NHL coach as all 31 coaches are going to keep their jobs through the season, the first time that’s happened in more than 50 years.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details of Ilya Kovalchuk looking to return to the NHL next season after five years over in Russia.

*For something completely different: Love these galleries that Anthony Breznican does at Entertainment Weekly to break down the new Star Wars/Marvel trailers when they finally drop on the Internet. There are such great, little details to them.


Backes gets a shot at centering top line vs. Lightning

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Backes gets a shot at centering top line vs. Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. – The Bruins will switch things up a little bit heading into their important game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, and that means a new look among their forward group. 

The Bruins are bumping David Backes up to a center spot on the top line in between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and pushing Riley Nash back to the third-line center spot that he’s manned for most of the season.

Certainly, Nash has done an admirable job of filling in for an injured Patrice Bergeron, but the expectation is that Backes can bring a little more of an offensive jolt, perhaps protect Marchand and Pastrnak a little bit and improve a face-off performance with the Bruins that’s been lacking a little lately. Bruce Cassidy acknowledged that on a very short list of areas where the Lightning can be exploited, their abilities in the face-off dot is one of them.

“It’s something we talked about. It’s an easy switch to go back to. Backes is fresh and Riley has played a lot of hockey lately, so maybe this will be David a little motivated being up there. They’ll probably see the top lines, so we’ll see how David responds to that. It will get David a few more looks offensively as well,” said Cassidy of Backes, who joked he thought he was going to be a healthy scratch when he didn't see his name in its normal third-line spot on the pre-practice whiteboard. “[The face-offs] are also part of it. Without [Patrice] Bergeron and [David] Backes get tossed the other night, we had a tough time.

“Tampa doesn’t have very many weaknesses, but if there’s one you could sort of nitpick at it’s the face-off dot. So it’s somewhere we can start hopefully with the puck a little more than them.”

That’s what can happen when a team is missing Bergeron and his 56.9 percent win rate in the face-off circle. Backes has been good this season winning 53 percent of his draws in limited center duty while Nash is at 47.6 percent and Sean Kuraly is at 46.4 percent, so it’s pretty clear why the Bruins are struggling in the dot recently.

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings based on an optional morning skate at Amalie Arena: