BRIGHTON, Mass. – With Patrice Bergeron expected to return to the Bruins lineup for the home opener tonight vs. New Jersey, the hope is that addition will bring some balance to the forward group. After all, it's been a noticeably sluggish start from David Krejci and his makeshift linemates over the season's first three games.
Krejci, coming back from offseason hip surgery, has one assist in the first three games and he’s been uncharacteristically quiet while centering one player out of position (Ryan Spooner) and another suiting up for the first NHL games of his career (Danton Heinen).
With Bergeron back between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, that allows 32-year-old David Backes to slide down next to Krejci on the right side of the second line while Heinen swings from right wing to his strong side left wing position.
Claude Julien hopes that chain reaction brings a little more offensive balance to his lineup and ceases making the Black and Gold attack so top heavy after relying on Marchand, Backes and Pastrnak to carry them in the early games.
“Well, it has [been quiet],” said Julien when asked about the Krejci line. “There’s a young player on that line and Spoons, who hasn’t been as good as you need him to be. So it’s been hard, and Krejci is coming off a major hip surgery. So, he’s got to find his game and work through that stuff, so it’s kind of expected a little bit that it’s not going to succeed with that [combination].
“But Backes is going to be a big help, I think, to David [Krejci] and gives some experience, some size and obviously some grit [to that line]. I’m not sure how much of a good look I’ve had [with Heinen] because they didn’t play quite like I thought they would play. It didn’t matter who we put on the fourth line, they just played so well, [Riley] Nash moved up to the third [line] and had some better shifts even if they didn’t produce. So it’s about finding that good balance that’s going to get some good scoring from all of the lines.”
The Krejci line with Spooner and Heinen accounted for two assists and 11 shots on net in their three games together and is due for the change they’ll get tonight when Backes brings his size, strength and finishing ability to Boston’s second line.