Boston Bruins’ Fourth Line Has New Life With Curtis Lazar

The Boston Bruins have had points discovering depth scoring from their offense for years. This season, with the hectic schedule and lots of accidents, the problem has been highlighted. By 41 video games, the Bruins have a 23-12-6 report, for 52 factors, and sit in fourth place, eight factors behind the first-place Washington Capitals, with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers bearing down on them for the ultimate playoff spot. Heading into the Commerce Deadline, it was clear they wanted so as to add offense to solidify their tentative maintain on a playoff spot. 

The deal got here in late Sunday evening. The Bruins acquired forwards Taylor Corridor and Curtis Lazar from the Buffalo Sabres in change for Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round decide. It’s simple to see who received the commerce; Boston obtained a former first-overall decide in Corridor, even when he’s struggled just lately, and a hard-hitting fourth-liner in Lazar for a decide and a participant who spent loads of this season as a wholesome scratch. 

Anders Bjork was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on April 12, together with a 2021 second-round decide, for Taylor Corridor and Curtis Lazar. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

A variety of nice protection has already been given to the acquisition of Corridor and his potential so as to add life to the Bruins’ second line. Even when he isn’t the one scoring, he may help generate offense which could possibly be the difference-maker heading into the playoffs.

However, don’t underestimate the significance of Lazar. Including him to the fourth line might make them a menace once more and trigger bother for opponents within the last stretch of the season.

Fourth Line Struggles in 2021

At the start of the season, I argued that the Bruins’ wanted the fourth line to be a part of the successful components. Whereas a very good fourth line received’t essentially be the deciding think about who wins the Stanley Cup, a bodily vitality line may be the distinction in a league the place the extent of expertise on the highest groups is so comparable.

In 2018-19, when the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Last, the road of Chris Wagner, Sean Kuraly, and Noel Acciari performed an vital function. Within the common season and within the playoffs, they had been matched up towards the opposition’s high expertise and located methods to close them down on most nights. 

Wagner reached career-highs that season with 12 targets, all at even energy, and 19 factors in 76 video games. He was additionally a plus-3, with an 8.9 taking pictures proportion, 21 giveaways, and 247 hits. In 31 video games this season, he has two targets and 5 factors; he’s a minus-10 and solely has a 5.3% taking pictures proportion.

Chris Wagner Boston Bruins
Chris Wagner, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Within the 2018-19 season, Kuraly had eight targets and 21 factors in 71 video games. He was a plus-6 and three of his eight targets had been game-winners. In 33 video games in 2020-21, he has two targets and 4 factors and is a minus-12.

They’ve each missed time this season. Wagner has been a wholesome scratch, and Kuraly spent an prolonged interval on the Covid protocol checklist after testing optimistic in March. Not having them to close down the opposition’s high strains has put extra stress on the opposite three strains, and all 4 strains have struggled at occasions this season.

For the Bruins to achieve success, a very good fourth line is crucial. Kuraly and Wagner haven’t on the high of their sport, and neither Bjork nor Trent Frederic has clicked with them, so a brand new presence a deadline want, even when it wasn’t as urgent as a second-line winger or one other defenseman.

Lazar’s Path to the Bruins

Lazar was a first-round decide by the Ottawa Senators in 2013, chosen seventeenth general, however hasn’t lived as much as expectations. He had an excellent junior profession and was phenomenal in large video games and tournaments. He scored 12 targets in six video games for Crew British Columbia through the 2011 Canada Winter Video games and captained Canada’s gold-medal successful 2015 World Juniors staff.

Nevertheless, he has struggled to supply within the NHL and has earned the status as a very good defensive, bottom-six ahead. He made his debut for the Senators within the 2014-15 season and scored six targets and 15 factors in 67 video games. He elevated that to twenty factors within the 2015-16 season after which noticed his manufacturing dramatically fall the next season when he scored one help in 33 video games and was despatched right down to the AHL for a stint earlier than being traded to the Calgary Flames. 

Curtis Lazar Buffalo Sabres
Curtis Lazar, a former member of the Buffalo Sabres, is a brand new addition to the Bruins fourth line. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Lazar signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Buffalo Sabres in 2019. In 38 video games, he had 5 targets and 10 factors. In 33 video games this season, he had 5 targets, ranked fifth on the staff and which can also be tied for sixth with Charlie Coyle on the Bruins.

Enjoying With a Spark

In his first two video games with the Bruins, Lazar has made his presence identified together with his ability and aggression, and Kuraly and Wagner have rapidly been boosted by him. He’s creating alternatives for the fourth line, taking part in at heart, which has pushed Kuraly to the wing, and up to now, within the small pattern measurement, the mixture is working. 

In accordance with the underlying numbers, he performs the same sport to Bjork, which could possibly be regarding afterward as we all know head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t recognize Bjork’s sport. Or, this could possibly be an ideal change-of-scenery commerce and Lazar proceed to construct chemistry together with his linemates play as he has up to now.

This season, the Bruins have regarded gradual and anemic. However, in Tuesday’s sport towards the Sabres and yesterday’s sport towards the New York Islanders, the staff truly performed with a spark. It was the primary time in practically a month when it truly felt just like the staff might make a push for the Cup, and when Lazar was on the ice, it made the fourth line noticeable. They generated alternatives and brought on issues for the opposition. The vitality line lastly regarded prefer it had come to play. 

It’s too early to know if Corridor, Lazar, and defenseman Mike Reilly will make sufficient of a distinction to push the Bruins over the hump and propel them into the playoffs. However, there isn’t lots to be offended about with the staff’s Commerce Deadline offers. They managed to carry onto their first-round decide and nonetheless added expertise that addressed their wants. In the meanwhile, I might name this a win for GM Don Sweeney.

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