Bruins-Islanders Notes: Patrice Bergeron Line Struggles In 3-2 Loss

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BergeronBOSTON — Patrice Bergeron failing to play at an elite level is a rare sight for Bruins fans.

Although to be fair, his linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith haven’t fared much better.

After a poor performance in a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, the Marchand-Bergeron-Smith line failed to bounce back in a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday night at TD Garden.

“Well, if we’re just talking about one guy, Patrice, with all the hockey he’s given us, his line right now, I think there’s a guy, (Reilly Smith), that still is behind,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “He missed the start of camp and he’s still trying to find his stride. I thought (Marchand) played much better (versus San Jose), so things are coming around with him, personally. You need three guys for a line to work well.”

Boston’s second line combined for zero points and four missed shots against the Islanders. It also had a 47.67 Corsi-for percentage at even strength, which means that the Islanders were responsible for over 52 percent of the shot attempts when the Marchand-Bergeron-Smith trio was on the ice.

The Corsi breakdown below illustrates just how much the Bergeron line was out shot by New York at even strength. These three players each had a Corsi-for percentage above 58 last season, and Bergeron led the league at 61.22 percent. So it’s rare to see this line not control the majority of the shot attempts during 5-on-5 play.

Oct. 23 (vs. NYI) 5-on-5
Player Corsi For Corsi Against
Patrice Bergeron 16 20
Reilly Smith 16 18
Brad Marchand 16 15

Bergeron has tallied just one point (an assist) in the past four games and has been on the ice for five of Boston’s last six goals against. At one point in Thursday’s game, Bergeron had lost 18 of his last 31 faceoffs (dating back to his 9-for-22 effort in the dot against San Jose), but to his credit, he rebounded in the last two periods and finished 12-for-18 (66.7 percent) against the Islanders.

“I feel like — it’s one of those things that the bounces are just not going your way,” Bergeron said. “Like we just talked about, the puck has got to get out (of the defensive zone), and we’ve got to figure it out from there. That’s it. Tonight, we had our chances to put the puck in the back of the net, and we’ve got to do the job as well.”

Smith has been the weak link of the second line in the last four games. He’s scoreless with just one shot on goal in that span. It’s way too early to consider removing Smith from this line, but his play must improve.

Overall, the Bruins need more scoring (zero even-strength goals in the last four games) and better defense from the Bergeron line, especially when you consider that this trio plays the majority of its ice time against the opponent’s top lines.

— Zdeno Chara left the game with 8:12 remaining in the first period and didn’t return. He exited shortly after a collision with Islanders center John Tavares. It appeared that the two captains collided knees.

“It’s big,” Bruins D-man Dennis Seidenberg said. “He’s obviously not just big in stature, but he’s a leader out there. He takes up a lot of room, he’s dominant in the defensive zone and he’s the biggest part of this team. Again, we have to embrace this opportunity. Whatever happens, happens. We just have to play better as a whole.”

— Julien didn’t give any details on Chara’s status.

“No report yet,” Julien said. “I haven’t even checked in on the situation. First of all, we won’t know anything until he sees the proper people in the medical staff. Nothing right now.”

— Chris Kelly started Boston’s comeback attempt with a third-period goal — his second tally of the season. He has a five-game point streak (one goal, four assists).

— Milan Lucic scored his first goal of the season in the opening period. He has six points (one goal, five assists) in his last four games. Seth Griffith earned his first career NHL assist on the play.

— Kyle Okposo scored New York’s second goal. He has three goals and six assists in seven games.

Photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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