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Rich Peverley becomes center of attention with Chris Kelly out

03.14.13 at 12:51 pm ET
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Rich Peverley

The Bruins needed more offensive consistency out of their third line, and instead they got even more uncertainty as center Chris Kelly was lost for the time being with a broken left tibia Monday against the Senators.

Things were looking up for Kelly’s line when the addition of Jordan Caron yielded a Kelly goal in Caron’s season debut Saturday, giving the Caron-Kelly-Rich Peverley line as many goals in one game as the Chris Bourque-Kelly-Peverley line had in 16 games. Yet the trio of Kelly with Caron and Peverley won’t be seen again for a while, and for the time being the B’s will be working with Peverley between Jay Pandolfo and Caron, as they did Tuesday against the Penguins.

The revamped third line obviously features some shuffling, as Peverley, who has played mostly right wing in his time with the B’s, slides to center. Caron, a left wing, is now playing his off-wing on the right to allow Pandolfo to play left. It shows off the versatility that some of the Bruins have to offer, but the line doesn’t need versatility, it needs production after a start that has seen uncharacteristically low offensive output from Boston’s third line.

The move to center is nothing new for Peverley, who played center in Nashville and Atlanta and has taken plenty of draws in his time with the B’s.

“We’re lucky to have guys like Pev, and even guys like Seguin that have played center most of their career and can step in there and be comfortable in that petition,” Claude Julien said Thursday morning. “Pev is going to have to fill some big shoes there, with Kells being a real versatile centerman that can do a lot of different things for our team. The other thing about Rich is he’s extremely good on faceoffs. That’s an area where we don’t lose a lot.”

The third line wasn’t on the ice for any of the Penguins’ three goals in the final 6:18 to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the B’s, but the trio of Pandolfo, Peverley and Caron also combined for a total of zero shots on goal Tuesday, making it a generally underwhelming debut for the new line.

With “indefinitely” the term used by Peter Chiarelli to describe how Kelly will be out, the line will obviously have time to hit its stride, unless a trade is made or a player is recalled from Providence. Pandolfo is optimistic that he, Peverley and Caron will be able to find the chemistry needed to be a reliable line.

“If we can get some chances and get some chances, it might give us some confidence,” Pandolfo said Thursday morning. “That’s the biggest thing, is just trying to create some scoring chances and do the job defensively. That’s all guys can really worry about.”

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