BOSTON – While not even close to the top of the list of their priority list, the Bruins could use a little more consistency out of their fourth line this season. Rugged rookie winger Tyler Randell has three goals in 10 games and has provided a strong, physical presence on most nights while feeling his way through the NHL.
He’s only been a minus player twice in those 10 games and it was his strong play that, at least in part, has relegated Max Talbot to the AHL.
Zac Rinaldo is second on the NHL with 49 hits in 15 games this season while living up to his reputation as a player that will be aggressive and in-your-face, but has zero points in 15 games to go with his 27 penalty minutes. He has two shots on net in six games during the month of November, but is a minus-2 for the month.
Joonas Kemppainen has a goal and two points in 15 games, and replaced Ryan Spooner on the third line in the third period of Tuesday night’s loss to the San Jose Sharks.
But both of those points arrived in a road win over the New York Islanders, and have been part of a very quiet fourth line for an offensive perspective. The big Finn has gone nine games without a point, and is a minus-3 in November thus far.
They’re a combined minus-4 as a line this season as well, and Claude Julien said the B’s energy line needs to start by keeping the puck out of the back of the net. They’ve drawn a few penalties and both Kemppainen and Rinaldo are involved on the penalty kill, but as a unit they need to do more to maximize their handful of minutes on the ice.
“Randell has three goals in 10 games, but when you look at the defensive side of it they’re getting scored [on] too much,” said Claude Julien of his fourth line. “They need to have a better balance. With the fourth line the first thing is not to get scored on.
“Anytime they score it adds to your depth and is a great thing. But you need to end up on the positive side of the equation, and that’s what they’ve got to work on right now. They need to be a little more conscientious about what they need to do in the D-zone. They score a goal [against San Jose] that I thought was a nice goal, but they also gave up a goal…so it kind of events out.”
Julien was quick to point out that the combinations have changed with Chris Kelly and Talbot also part of the mix in the first month, so it wasn’t all about the three specific forwards on the line right now. But it also sounds like it would be in the fourth line’s best interest to start making a few more plays in the positive column before more changes start coming for that unit.