The Boston Bruins are currently on a four-game winning streak due in large part to their fourth line. Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner have come up big for the black and gold as of late.
Against the Sabres in Buffalo, Kuraly tapped home the puck after his original shot caused a rebound for the overtime victory.
In the Bruins’ next game which just so happened to be the Winter Classic, the fourth line was at it again. A shot from the point deflected off Wagner and landed right on Kuraly’s stick. Kuraly backhanded it into the net past Corey Crawford for the game-winning goal.
On Saturday night against the Sabres, they continued their strong play. After having his first goal waived off due to goaltender interference, Wagner would not be denied a second time. Off a forced turnover from Acciari, Wagner buried a wrist shot past the Sabres netminder to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
In their 2013 run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins fourth line was given the nickname of the “merlot line”. Made up of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, they were called this because of the maroon colored sweaters they wore in practice. In the playoffs that year, the line combined for a total of 20 points in the Bruins’ 22 playoff games. The three contributed in other facets of the game as well. For example, Campbell broke his leg while blocking a slapshot from Evgeni Malkin in game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Riding the hot hand
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy opened the game with the fourth line against the Sabres on Saturday night. He said that may continue going forward so the trio can set the tone for the rest of the game.
So far this season, Wagner, Kuraly and Acciari have combined for 10 goals and 21 points. But similar to the merlot line in 2013, the fourth line does more than just score. Wagner, Kuraly and Acciari each average over a minute of shorthanded time on ice per game.
Need for production
It’s no surprise to anyone that the Bruins need scoring depth. Aside from their first line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, the Bruins need more production out of their bottom three lines. The Bruins currently rank 19th in the league in goals scored. On the other side of the puck their defense has been stout because of their goaltending. But the Bruins will need to put up goals in the playoffs if they want to beat the likes of Toronto, Washington and Tampa Bay.
Wagner, Kuraly and Acciari most likely won’t put up the same numbers as Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron. That being said, the fourth line must continue to produce offensively. In order for the Bruins to make a deep playoff run they’re going to need scoring from all four lines.