clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Should the Bruins consider breaking up the best line in the NHL next season?

Sure, it sounds like heresy — but such a move wouldn’t be without merit.

NHL: Boston Bruins at New York Islanders Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand combined for 99 goals and 129 assists during the 2017-2018 regular season They combined for an additional 16 goals and 37 assists in the playoffs.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a total of 281 points between the three guys. The Bruins, as a franchise, played 94 games this season, though Pastrnak is the only one of the above to play in all 94.

The take-home point: these guys were borderline automatic together this season.

So...why on Earth would the Bruins consider breaking up the league’s best line?

Glad you asked!

Why would you break up such a productive trio?

It’s true that sometimes you can think about something too much, or tinker just for the sake of tinkering. Admittedly, there may be some of that going on here.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right?

The Bruins weren’t exactly a one-line team this season, but there were certainly times were they were pretty close to that (the Tampa series immediately comes to mind). There’s something to be said for spreading the wealth, and the Bruins may now be in a position to do so.

Marchand and Bergeron will likely stay together regardless of what happens with the other spot, as the two have learned each other’s tendencies inside and out after playing together for most of the last seven years.

The difference heading into this season is that the Bruins have a number of different guys that they could try on that right wing.

If you think back to the start of the season, Anders Bjork was the first guy to get a shot with Bergeron and Marchand. He did OK, but hit a bit of a skid before getting injured.

Trying a guy like Bjork on that wing isn’t surprising: young guys have been riding on that right wing for years. Tyler Seguin spent time there before he was dealt, and Reilly Smith flourished in that spot as well.

Pastrnak stepped in and excelled, so what’s to say another young guy couldn’t do the same?

Speaking of Pastrnak, he’s more than capable of playing apart from those two guys as well. Bergeron and Marchand are among the better defensive forwards in the games, and there were certainly times where they covered up for Pastrnak defensively.

However, Pastrnak took great strides this year in terms of strength and “hockey IQ,” getting better at winning battles along the boards and making the smart play. This isn’t to say he was airtight, of course; rather that he improved drastically over last season, which is really all you can ask.

Pastrnak’s improved overall game makes him an even more valuable weapon now, one that you can deploy further down your lineup to make things more difficult on opposing defenses.

By splitting up the Bratricestrnak (alright, maybe that won’t catch on) line, you’re creating a deeper, more dangerous lineup. It’s what the Bruins hoped to do by acquiring Rick Nash: add a legitimate scoring threat to the second line to take some pressure off of the first.

Plus, Pastrnak has shown flashes of chemistry with fellow countryman David Krejci, who just so happens to be the second-line center.

What would the Bruins lines look like if you switched up the top line?

The main reason this is coming up now is because the Bruins, for the first time in a while, have legitimate options to consider on the right. An influx of young talent has guys like Bjork, Ryan Donato, Austin Czarnik and others looking for places to play.

Those three just happen to be the three best candidates to slot in on Marchand and Bergeron’s right.

While he looked good with Krejci, Donato would probably be the first to get a look. Sure, it’s a little crazy to put a rookie on the first line, but his game would mesh will with the other two’s style of play. Like Pastrnak before him, they could help cover up some gaffes. Like Pastrnak before him, Donato loves to shoot the puck, and would benefit from the possession/space-making game played by Bergeron and Marchand.

Czarnik is a bit of a wild card, as there’s a chance he won’t even be back with the organization. While he may be a center at heart, he’s played wing before and would probably be more than happy to play it if it got him regular ice time.

Bjork, the forgotten kid after his injury, might also benefit from the steady play offered by Bergeron and Marchand.

If you ice a line of Marchand-Bergeron-Donato, Marchand-Bergeron-Czarnik or Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork, there will likely be a little less offense than there was with Pastrnak, but you hope that offense is picked up by the revamped second line.

Speaking of which...Daves and Jake! It might sound like the kind of chain restaurant that pretends it’s a real sports bar but actually serves nothing but microwaved frozen food, but it also sounds like a pretty legit second line.

DeBrusk plays a bit of a heavy game and is good along the boards. Krejci is still an elite passer and playmaker. Pastrnak has one of the best shots in the league. Mix ‘em all up and you get a pretty dangerous group, one that probably creates way more offense than it did with Spooner on the wing.

The bonus in all of this is that you go from one legitimate scoring line to two. This forces teams to deploy their checking line or top defense pair against one and play lesser competition against the other; one will always end up with a slightly favorable match-up.

Plus, if it doesn’t work, you can always go back, right?

So throw another kid on Patrice Bergeron’s right and teach DeBrusk how to speak Czech. It’ll be fun, don’t worry.

Poll

Would you mess with the Bruins’ first line?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    No, don’t mess with perfection
    (167 votes)
  • 43%
    Yes, spread the wealth
    (458 votes)
  • 40%
    Maybe, try it in camp/preseason
    (418 votes)
1043 votes total Vote Now