Have the 2018 Boston Bruins found themselves as productive a fourth line as the Merlot line was back in 2011? Nothing is guaranteed yet, but up to this point the recent emergence of the fourth line for the Bruins has been a key factor in their success. In the past nine games the Bruins have secured a point in all of them, going 7-0-2. The most encouraging sign is that it’s not because of a singular player or line like it has been in the past. But a definite positive sign almost halfway into the season has been the overall excellence of the Sean Kuraly, Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari.
As you would want from most fourth lines Kuraly/Schaller/Acciari have gone above and beyond to earn the trust of Bruce Cassidy. As a line the trio has combined to go -2. Considering they are tasked with keeping other teams offensive lines in check this is pretty impressive. At this point in the season Cassidy has no hesitation to send out his fourth line and for good reason. Right now they are playing fabulous, selfless hockey. Whether it is in the defensive zone rotating along the boards or through coverage as if they are anticipating each others moves, it’s quite extraordinary. Along with each of the three being solid penalty killers and none of them shying away from good body contact.
The toughness element of this line cannot be understated. For stretches this season the Bruins have been pushed around by more physically dominant teams. But now with the Kuraly/Schaller/Acciari line adding not just a physical presence to the lineup but also holding opposing players responsible. Just as Schaller did when Acciari took a nasty hit up high against the Senators. Schaller showed no hesitation in dropping the gloves to protect his partner. But do not be confused, this is a line that knows how to check cleanly and effectively. Defensively reliability and guts of the Kuraly/Schaller/Acciari line certainly mirrors that of the Merlot line in its prime.
Since the disband of the Merlot line, the Bruins have struggled to find a reliable versatile fourth line. Mainly because the veterans they brought in did not provide enough offensively and the young kids enough defensive reliability. But Kuraly/Schaller/Acciari is not just a bunch of defensive specialists. They can get after it on the offensive end as well. So far the trio has combined to put up 13 goals and 12 assist for 25 points. While also adding a surprising amount of speed to the Bruins’ lineup.
That is what makes this line so fascinating to watch. One minute they can be doing the dirty work in the defensive end. Then the next they are going end to end at full speed creating great scoring chances. It’s very impressive to watch and was on full display against the Islanders. Kuraly helped set up Schaller’s goal and Acciari netted one as well. They lead the Bruins to an impressive 5-1 victory.
The selflessness on the offensive end has been they key for this line. The right play is the simple play to them. They take what the defense is giving them. No more no less, and it has worked quite well. While none of them are offensive juggernauts by any stretch. Each of the three has the ability to score a timely goal or make a winning play. If the fourth line can keep up this level of production than opponents are not gonna be excited to play the Bruins.