By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26
In previous years, the Bruins have formed an identity around the personnel of the fourth line. The identity began with the infamous 2011 Merlot Line with Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton. The trio was a lethal fourth line that played in critical matchups, and they weren’t afraid to get in the face of the opposition. They were a massive contributor to how the Bruins went on to win their first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011. Then, in 2019 came along the Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly, and Noel Acciari line. This trio configured grit and speed into the lineup that created tough matchups for teams as the Bruins went on to the cup final that same year.
Recently, the Bruins haven’t strung together a fourth line that’s made an impact as the Merlot Line and the 2019 trio did. Boston has attempted to acquire players such as Nick Foligno and Thomas Nosek to reform the depth of the Boston Bruins. With Nick Foligno being put on waivers by Bruins’ management, Boston is looking to retool their bottom six by allowing younger and newer players within the system to fill the open roles on the team. Here’s a look at a couple of players that will be filling the positions on the bottom six forwards.
A player that opened eyes in the preseason was AJ Greer. Greer was acquired by the Bruins during the Summer in free agency and immediately made his presence known. The 25-year-old sprung onto the scene in the preseason and scored a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, against the New York Rangers in a 3-2 victory. Greer isn’t known as a scorer, but he impressed the Bruins staff with his quick release, tenacious forechecking, and surprising speed. Greer spent most of last season in the AHL and notched 22 goals and 30 assists in 53 games, but he has some NHL experience with 47 games played. He’ll likely get his first shot with the Bruins in the regular season on either the third or fourth line on Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals.
Another player that impressed many in the preseason was Jack Studnicka. The longtime Bruins prospect has had multiple opportunities to secure a position with the Boston roster, but he seemingly wasn’t ready to make the jump. This preseason, he’s shown substantial strides in defensive play, skating, and confidence with the puck. Defensively, he showed his strength at the faceoff dot and better awareness in the d-zone. He also displayed development in his skating with the puck and wasn’t intimidated to make plays. While he’s not the prototypical fourth-line player, he could provide some much-needed offense on the bottom six for the Bruins.
Lauko’s journey to the NHL has been up and down since Boston drafted him in 2018, but he was one of the Bruins’ standout prospects in the preseason and is finally getting a chance in the NHL. Boston’s newly hired head coach Jim Montgomery commented on the play of the 22-year-old forward, and what he thought Lauko could bring to the lineup. “His speed, his tenacity, and he’s fearless,” Montgomery said. “He’s fearless going to hard areas. We think he brings energy to our group, and that speed element is something we felt we needed in our lineup.” A player like Lauko could be a spark plug on the fourth line with the attributes he brings on a nightly basis. Lauko is projected to make the opening lineup on Wednesday night on the fourth line.
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