Brian Rolston the Odd Man out on Offense on the Boston Bruins for the Playoffs?
Barring another bite from the injury bug, this will mean having a long-awaited surplus of forwards who have seen substantial action in the NHL this season. Peverley should have an opportunity to suit up for at least five or six games to close out the regular season, and in turn, build up momentum to ride into the playoffs.
Naturally though, Peverley’s impending return brings head coach Claude Julien the “good problem” of having to determine the 13th, aka spare, offensive player.
The top-four candidates to assume that role, each bearing noteworthy plus points and drawbacks are assessed in alphabetical order in the following slides. Julien will need to monitor each player’s pros and cons over the next two weeks and meticulously determine whose unique qualities will be needed, which ones are expendable and which ones might pose a problem.
The professional sophomore accelerated in the first half of this month, tallying a for goals, four assists scoring log in a span of six games. In addition, after repeat flip-flops between Boston and Providence as a rookie and for the first four months of the season, Caron could bring a fresh supply of energy and determination to the playoffs as a means of cementing his stripes.
Having touched upon his two positive qualities, Caron has tapered off since his breakthrough hot streak, going pointless and accruing a minus-two rating over his last four outings. And of the 13 Boston forwards in question, he is the only one without a Stanley Cup game on his transcript. If the Bruins are looking for youthful vigor at the defining point in their season, they could look to Tyler Seguin.
Peverley’s versatility has shown in that he can master the responsibilities of a forward or a pivot and can smoothly transition from the third line to the Top Six upon request.
And even after missing almost one-third of the schedule up to this point, he is sixth among all Bruins with 29 assists on the year, evidence that his playmaking propensity has been missed during Boston’s chronic struggles.
This will be cleared to a certain extent in the coming weeks, but there is naturally a question as to how effective Peverley can be after a protracted stint on the sidelines, let alone in the most intense phases of the season.
Pouliot is third on the team with four game-winning goals, usually picks up his points with a Brad Marchand-type of grit and is seventh on the team with 88 hits.
Among forwards, only fourth-line center Gregory Campbell and perpetual suspect Milan Lucic have checked more opponents. That combination of physicality and clutch scoring emits a tough-to-resist playoff aroma.
Much like Caron, Pouliot has been sizzling in March with eight points in six games prior to the current road trip. But Bruins buffs have seen this before in the ex-Canadien’s first season in New England.
Just look at Pouliot’s 2011-12 game log to see that he could easily be the subject of Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” and decide whether his lack of consistency is worth the gamble in the playoffs, where his history is anything but spectacular. (Career postseason totals: 22 games, no goals, two assists.)
The Bruins were in desperate need of a veteran striker to fill at least some of the gaping void left by Mark Recchi’s retirement. And after taking about two weeks to settle in after coming from the Islanders at the trading deadline, Rolston seems to be benefiting from the change of scenery, tallying a two goals and six assists log as part of an active four-game scoring streak.
If Rolston, a Cup winner with New Jersey as a rookie in 1995, can keep translating his hunger for one last deep playoff run in a similar manner, he will have fulfilled the unwritten terms of his contract.
Rolston is arguably the hardest sideline candidate to find fault with. After all, just like Recchi in 2009, he was not acquired at the deadline to be an honorary captain. He is one of the few players on Boston’s roster who has not had playoff fulfillment in recent years and should spread inspiration in a tangible, active manner.
With that said, there is still time for his hot streak to cool off, his age to show and his having been on a lowly Islanders team to prove less deceptive than General Manager Peter Chiarelli would have hoped. Only the next two-plus weeks will tell.