The Boston Bruins have improved quite a bit in the last few years. After two years of not making the playoffs between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, the Bruins reached the playoffs a year ago, falling in the first round to the Ottawa Senators. This year, they took it another step, advancing past the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated in the second round at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
What stopped them from a deeper playoff run was the Lightning’s ability to shutdown the Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Considered to be one of the best lines in the NHL, if not the best, that first line combined for 16 goals and 53 points in 12 postseason games. However, among the seven losses they sustained, that top line managed just four goals, 11 points and a minus-23, suggesting the team is too reliant on that top line. Regardless, Marchand had his second-best season of his career last year with 34 goals and 85 points. Bergeron had a high-quality year with 30 goals and 63 points, while Pastrnak had a career-season with 35 goals and 80 points. The three work real well together, when things are going well.
Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston writes that the team might need to look at breaking up its top line and spread the wealth throughout multiple lines. While he admits there is no reason to break up Marchand and Bergeron as the two have been together too long, the scribe believes it better if Pastrnak moves to his own line and stars on a more potent second line, possibly with David Krejci, who has shown good chemistry with Pastrnak in the past and most recently at the World Championships this year.
General manager Don Sweeney said recently that the team is considering that as a possibility, but it’s too early to decide.
“It’s a prolific line, it’s very difficult to stop, and the chemistry that they have created [is special]. We had three people at the World Championships come back and said ‘Boy, [David] Krejci and [David] Pastrnak played really well together’…so those things filter back to the coaches,” said GM Don Sweeney. “I don’t think anything is set in stone. It’s certainly a coach’s decision, but we’ll have some conversations.”
With a number of young, talented players such as Jake Debrusk, Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen and Ryan Donato on the team, perhaps one of them might develop better next to Marchand and Bergeron. It certainly worked for Pastrnak. Bjork, in fact, started the season off on the first line before injuries derailed his season.
Do you think the Bruins should break up their top line?
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