The Boston Bruins have a real good thing with their first line featuring Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
That’s nothing new. It’s been that way for a long, long time. I mean, these guys have been so good together that they actually call ’em The Perfection Line. (You won’t see them called that here, but that’s another story.) But as is the case with all great things, there’s a chunk of people out there that believe it is in the team’s best interest to tear this line down. The theory behind the split seems sound enough: The Bruins need a greater scoring balance, and this is how you accomplish that.
Now, I used to be team split ’em up. I used to see the potential perks of it.
But at this point, it feels a little like trying to heat up your apartment in January by opening another window. It’s taking a hammer to your perfectly fine engine because you have a flat tire. They’re just so freaking good together, and it doesn’t make sense to make the pay for the sins of roster holes elsewhere.
Ask yourself this simple question: When it comes time to win a game, win a series, win a championship… is Bruce Cassidy going to keep this line separated? The answer is no. That’s been proven time and time again. And when the Bruins have come up short, has it been this line’s fault or the inability to get anything from those beneath that line? The B’s sticking with this line despite those shortcomings — as well as the countless moves they’ve made to address their scoring depth — gives you an inkling as to their feelings on where these guys fit into that blame game.
…And like I said, this is so damn good together, as their reunion on Sunday after a quick game apart only reinforced their status as one of the game’s most dangerous trios.
Together for 11 minutes of five-on-five play last night, the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line controlled possession at 70 percent, outshot Philly 7-1, and outscored ’em 2-0. The line also turned a blocked shot in a two-on-one goal that gave the Bruins the lead less than a minute into the game.
It just looks effortless at times. It’s been that way all year, too.
Together for 100 minutes this season, the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak has dominated with a 61-33 shots advantage, and holds a plus-6 goal differential in 2021, at 9-to-3. The line is also one of just three NHL lines averaging at least five goals per 60 minutes out of the gate in 2021, joining the Leafs’ Hyman-Matthews-Marner and Arizona’s Keller-Schmaltz-Garland line.
Oh, and in 80 minutes without Pastrnak this season, the Marchand-Bergeron combination has averaged just two goals per 60 minutes. They’re also averaging fewer shots, fewer scoring chances, and fewer high-danger scoring chances without Pastrnak riding on their right.
It’s a combination that makes all three players better (significantly!), and one that should stick together in the now, future, and when it comes winning time. After all, it’s not their fault that the Bruins haven’t been able to figure out their second line issues for over seven years now.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 7-3 win over the Flyers…
B’s losses on backend are beginning to pile up
The Bruins are running out of bodies on the backend.
Skating with three regulars on defense — Matt Grzelcyk, Kevan Miller, and Jakub Zboril — on Sunday, the Bruins lost another steadying presence with Jeremy Lauzon’s upper-body injury sustained just 34 seconds into his first (and final) shift of the outdoor affair.
The Bruins didn’t have an update on Lauzon after the loss, and with a Monday off, the Bruins are potentially looking at a Thursday that’ll see them without four of their top six defensemen. Now, the good news is that the Bruins do not believe that Miller’s absence is going to be a long one (Cassidy made it sound like his missed game was more about maintenance than healing), but if he’s wrong, and if the Bruins don’t get a positive word on their three left-side options, you’re talking about the Black and Gold throwing No. 11 defenseman Steve Kampfer into the mix for his first game of 2021.
This would effectively be the Bruins’ worst stretch of backend health since Nov. 2018.
Bruins continue to give Flyers a broken Hart
Sunday’s touchdown over the Flyers improved the Bruins to 5-0-0 agains the Flyers in 2021, and continued what’s been a downright bullying of Philadelphia netminder Carter Hart.
Beaten out of this one after he was hammered for six goals on 23 shots, Hart has now surrendered 20 goals on 127 shots against the Bruins in 2021, good for an .843 save percentage. For some additional context there, Hart has allowed 20 goals in four games against the Bruins… and just 18 in seven other games against East opponents in 2021. Again, this is bullying. This is oppo-Holtby for the Bruins.
And it has the ability to completely flip an otherwise close head-to-head if it doesn’t change.
A 50-50 weekend at Lake Tahoe for the NHL
I’m not happy with myself feeling like an absolute grouch about something that aesthetically looked as cool as this setup at Lake Tahoe. This is something I feel is reserved for people twice my age. But was this game borderline unwatchable out of the gate, and that was 100 percent because of the sun.
Just so we’re all on the same page here: The NHL scheduled two daytime puck-drop games and basically forgot about the sun. And when the sun ruined the first one, the NHL’s response was to schedule the following day’s contest to a start time that would still feature the sun. I’m not sure what’s more amazing… forgetting about the biggest thing in our entire galaxy and the reason this whole thing works or thinking that it won’t be out two days in a row. But, again, I heard a puck in the first period. Didn’t see it, but I heard it and players scored some goals, so I’m led to believe it was indeed there.
A more frustrating start, I could not imagine. Had me longing for the days of the FOX glow puck.
That said, when the sun went down, when we found that sweet spot between a sun beating down on the ice and pure darkness, this game got real, real pretty. I even liked how it ended, with Gritty lurking in the shadows of pure darkness and being, uh, Gritty.
Just start these games at sundown, please.