Peverley fitted for bigger role
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — When the Bruins hit the Rogers Arena ice for practice yesterday afternoon, Rich Peverley was the fourth skater on the No. 2 line alongside Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi.
The choice of gold practice jersey for Peverley indicated that the jack-of-all-trades forward — he’s skated on three of four lines — could be used to spell Recchi tonight in Game 1, just like he did in Game 7 against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals.
Peverley’s flexibility gives coach Claude Julien options. Recchi will most likely start the night on the second line. But in Game 7, Peverley skated in Recchi’s spot for several shifts, giving the line more speed and skill. At the same time, it gave Recchi a chance to rest his legs. In the third period, Recchi responded with two quick-strike chances in front that Dwayne Roloson booted out.
“He’s a great player,’’ Marchand said of Peverley. “He’s very good with the puck. He’s very, very fast. He gets to pucks quick. He makes a lot of great plays. He’s fit in well with whoever he’s out there with. It just shows that we have another player who can come in there and do some damage.’’
Recchi didn’t have the best series against the Lightning, going 0-0—0 in seven games. But the Bruins need his experience and leadership. His teammates have mentioned on countless occasions how significant Recchi’s leadership has become. Yesterday, Recchi, Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara led the post-session stretch. Against the Lightning, only Chara had been performing the duties.
But the Bruins will need Peverley’s skill, legs, and versatility against Vancouver’s forwards. The Canucks thrive on legs, exquisite timing, and quick-strike transition. When Bergeron and Marchand are deployed in a matchup role against one of Vancouver’s top two lines, they’ll need what Peverley brings to round out the unit.
“I think they’re a pretty good line without me,’’ Peverley said. “I don’t like to disrupt too much there. If I have to jump in with any other lines, I can jump in with [Chris Kelly’s] line. I played a few games with them. I got a few shifts with [David Krejci] the last game. Whoever it may be, I’ll just try and use my speed and use my assets.’’
Stolen assets In hindsight, general manager Peter Chiarelli committed two acts of bold-faced thievery against the same club in less than four months.
On March 3, 2010, Chiarelli picked former Florida GM Randy Sexton’s pocket. That day, Chiarelli acquired Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller, and a 2010 second-round pick. The latter was a selection Chiarelli nabbed from Tampa Bay in the Mark Recchi deal a year earlier (Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums went the other way).
Then on June 22, 2010, Chiarelli pulled another stickup job against Florida, this time with new GM Dale Tallon getting hosed in the deal. Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell came to Boston in exchange for Dennis Wideman, a 2010 first-round pick, and a 2011 third-rounder.
Seidenberg, who’s been paired with Chara, has been playing the best hockey of his life. Horton is tied with Krejci for the team lead in scoring in the playoffs. Campbell has played his usual fourth-line role and killed penalties alongside Daniel Paille.
“This is what hockey’s about — having an opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup,’’ said Campbell. “When you get accustomed to losing, I don’t think that’s a healthy thing as a player and as an athlete.’’
Sizable advantage During power-play drills, Chara was part of the first unit, filling the role of net-front widebody. On one shift, Chara locked up with Campbell just as Seidenberg let a one-timer rip.
According to Tim Thomas, Seidenberg’s shot deflected off Campbell, but Chara’s presence helped the puck go in.
“I’m hoping with him in front of the net, it makes it very hard for [Roberto] Luongo to see the puck,’’ Thomas said. “[Chara’s] good around the net, too. He’s good at getting rebounds and not just throwing them back into you. He’s moving the puck so it gets to the side of you. Even if Roberto’s able to find the puck with Zdeno Chara in front, he’s going to have to work very hard to do it.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.