BOSTON — In training camp, the Bruins thought they might have hit upon something special with a generation-spanning line that featured a wise-beyond-his-years center flanked by a grizzled veteran with a hall-of-fame resume and talented young rookie.
They were right. They just needed to tweak one ingredient in the recipe.
Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Tyler Seguin saw some time together in the preseason, and were briefly reunited earlier this month. But instead of Seguin, Brad Marchand looks like the youngster that line needed to suddenly spark the Bruins’ offense.
When Bruins coach Claude Julien was forced to shake up his lines again on Saturday after Nathan Horton was sidelined, he put that trio together. All they’ve done in the three games since is combine for eight goals, 13 points and a plus-17 rating.
Bergeron has supplied the bulk of that, collecting five goals and seven points in the three games, capped by his first career hat trick in Tuesday’s 6-0 win over Ottawa.
“He certainly provided us with some good offense this year and he seems to have good chemistry with Rex [Recchi] and he likes playing with him and they read off each other well,” Julien said of Bergeron. “We’ve had different wingers with them and I think Marsh [Marchand] has stepped in there and done a really good job of adjusting with those guys. He’s a hard worker and he’s in other teams’ faces and he forechecks well and creates some opportunities. There’s been a good fit there and I’m really hesitant at wanting to break that trio up because they’ve been so good for us.”
Marchand has been a good fit just about everywhere he’s played this season. He helped form an effective energy line for most of the year with Greg Campbell and Shawn Thornton, a unit Thornton christened the “Merlot Line” for their wine-colored practice jerseys.
Marchand’s agitating style fits in well with that unit, but he also has the skill to play up on a scoring line.
“We didn’t project [Marchand] to be necessarily a fourth-line player, we really projected him to be at least a good third-line player and maybe more depending on how he developed,” Julien said. “Again, depending on his production and everything else, we’ll see where he fits.
“The one thing he does do is he’s one of those guys that every night you’re getting the same thing out of him — that’s called consistency,” he added. “You look for that in players. Not every player has that ability, but he’s one of those guys that so far this year he’s given us that effort every night that gives the coach a good knowledge of what you’re going to get out of him as a player.”
Marchand, who had no goals and just one assist in 20 games in his first taste of NHL action last year, has been among the more productive players this year with 8-10-18 totals. Four of those points have come in the three games with Bergeron and Recchi, including a goal and an assist on Tuesday.
“They are two unbelievable players,” Marchand said. “It is very easy to play with them. If you just get to the right spot they will get you the puck. Bergie is so strong on the puck down low and Rex gets to the front of the net. It is pretty easy to play with them.
“Sometimes the guys make a little more creative plays,” Marchand added, comparing his new linemates to his old energy line cohorts. “For the most part we each just try to get pucks in deep and work it low. That’s pretty much what we did on the ‘Merlot Line,’ just get it low and work hard. I think that is what makes them so good. They’re very skilled and they both work hard.”
Bergeron’s hot streak pre-dated the creation of this line, as he is now 8-9-17 and a plus-10 over the last 13 games, but he has certainly been impressed by Marchand’s energy after his first chance to play with the scrappy youngster for an extended period.
“Yeah, it helps a lot,” Bergeron said of Marchand’s non-stop motor. “He’s good, he’s always out there, always wants that puck, and I’m the same way. We’re clicking right now. It’s nice. And Rex, I can’t say enough about him, we all know [how good he is]. So far it’s been great.”