For the better part of two seasons, despite possessing the team’s top two goal-scorers on the wing and their best all-around forward at center, the trio of Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron has been labeled as the “second line” for the Boston Bruins.
In 2013, with first-line wingers Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton having noteworthy struggles with consistency, it became all the more apparent which forward line was truly Boston’s top unit up front. But in an unexpected turn of events, there’s been a role reversal through the first three games of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Horton, Lucic and David Krejci have been on fire to start the postseason, torturing the Leafs and combining for a whopping 17 points. Together, they’ve accounted for five of the B’s 11 goals in the series.
Meanwhile, Bergeron’s line has failed to gain any traction through the first three tilts. Despite having combined for 36 shots – good for an average of four each per game – they have yet to find twine. Marchand has the group’s lone point, via an assist in Boston’s 4-2 loss in Game 2.
“It’s important,” Claude Julien said of getting contributions from all four lines. “When we look back at where we had success, it was one of those situations where we got balanced scoring, but it didn’t always come at the same time. One line was hot one series, and the next line took over the next series, and so on and so forth.
“We realize we’ve gotten a lot of scoring out of that Krejci line, which has been really good for us. No doubt Campbell’s line’s pitched in, and the last game Kelly’s line pitched in. The line that hasn’t has been the Bergeron line. They’ve had some chances. ‘Seggy’ hit the crossbar in the first game. They’ve had some chances but they haven’t capitalized. There’s no doubt they could be a little bit better, and we’re counting on that.”
With Jaromir Jagr setting up Rich Peverley for the opening goal in Game 3, thus getting the third line off the schneid, and fourth-liners Greg Campbell and Dan Paille combining for a goal and two assists thus far, the focus now fairly shifts onto Bergeron’s unit.
“Well, I don’t really want to use the word patience, because in the playoffs, patience is probably not the best thing,” Julien said when asked about waiting for that line to cash in. “It’s trying to get results. At the same time, you have to take the good things from that line. They have been good defensively and they’ve had some chances. They haven’t buried them.
“Right now it’s about encouraging them to create more chances and showing them where they can. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting a goal and getting your line going.”
So far, the Leafs haven’t had an answer for the Krejci line, which has been credited with five of the seven goals the Bruins forwards have through three playoff games. If Marchand, Bergeron and Seguin can break through, odds are the Black and Gold will be heading back to Boston for Friday night’s Game 5 with a commanding 3-1 series lead.
“Right now, we’ve got a line that’s going well,” Julien said. “The other lines have scored also. We thought we had a goal with Tyler’s crossbar. If that was the case, they would’ve produced as well. Maybe tonight’s the night they get what they want and we get what we want as a team.”