The Bruins haven’t had much of an offensive breakout at any point this season, and some of that stems from the inability to get their top-six forwards all clicking at once. The talent is undoubtedly there for Claude Julien‘s top two lines, but getting that talent to shine all at once hasn’t quite happened yet.
In Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, however, those two lines combined to lead the way for a Bruins team that keeps on winning.
Boston wasted no time getting on the board, either.
The first line of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic opened the scoring just 71 seconds into the game, when Horton’s hustle was rewarded by slamming home a rebound to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
The second line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin turned things into a “anything you can do, I can do better” game when Marchand scored just 2:39 later. Again, it was hustle that keyed the effort, with Marchand setting up Bergeron after an aggressive forecheck and a nifty feed to Bergeron in the right slot.
The Bruins were held scoreless in the second, but in the third, it was Marchand and Horton stepping up again. First, Marchand gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead with his ninth of the season, and Horton later added the insurance goal with his second tally of the night.
Add it all up, and you’ve got a pretty impressive night for the top six. The B’s top two lines combined for all four goals (on 17 of the team’s 26 shots) as well as three assists
Their impact wasn’t limited to points either. While Lucic was held scoreless, he was once again involved physically. Lucic registered a game-high seven hits and put three shots on net. Krejci logged more ice time than any other Boston forward, and his ability to keep the play alive led directly to the fourth Bruins goal where he chipped in with the “third assist” on the play.
The Bruins need more efforts like Thursday’s out of the top two lines. The offense, at times this year, has looked rather stagnant, and that’s not even talking about the power play. And while you can’t say enough about the play of players like Marchand and Lucic — arguably the team’s top offensive forwards through the first quarter of the season — it’s imperative that all of the top forwards get going.
If you break it down even further, that’s what makes Horton’s efforts Thursday even more encouraging if you’re the Bruins. He, along with Seguin, has struggled to put the puck in the net this season. If those two can get going — and they’ll have plenty of chances to do so with the schedule kicking into full gear in the coming weeks — you can probably expect more offensive showings like the one we saw Thursday out of the Bruins.
Julien’s system remains rooted in defense, and all six of Boston’s top forwards have shown the ability to play in their own end. But there are going to be nights where Boston won’t simply be able to win games by a score of 1-0 or 2-1.
Those are the nights where the Bruins are going to need more out of their best forwards, just like they got Thursday at Tampa Bay.