BOSTON — The Patrice Bergeron line has been the Bruins’ best all season, and that was again the case in Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
Brad Marchand, Reilly Smith and Bergeron combined for six points and turned defense into offense by taking possession of the puck, performing a clean breakout, entering the attacking zone with speed and capitalizing on scoring chances.
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Marchand started the line’s scoring with his 18th goal of the season. It was a well-executed play, starting with the breakout by Marchand, Smith’s speed through the neutral zone and Bergeron’s hard drive to the net.
Bergeron scored his 18th goal of the season in the second period. Smith did well to maintain possession behind the goal line, and eventually, the puck went to Zdeno Chara at the point. The Bruins controlled the rebound off Chara’s shot, and Bergeron threw the puck on net and it deflected off Keith Yandle’s skate and past Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.
These three players have spent the majority of their even-strength shifts alongside each other since the start of the 2013-14 campaign. They’ve formed remarkable chemistry as a result, but the chemistry between Bergeron and Marchand — who also rank among the top penalty killing duos — is quite astounding.
“Just the way he’s been able to help me improve, he reads off me so well, he allows me to make plays and he’s always in the right position for me and he knows how to read me the right way,” Marchand said of Bergeron.
“Whenever I need an out he’s always right there, he’s always there to back me up. He’s obviously a phenomenal finisher and a phenomenal playmaker. We’ve grown to the point where we know where each other are. You see little things like that two-on-one tonight. I knew he was coming the whole time, I was just waiting for it, and I knew I had to put myself in a spot to get it and he’d make it to me. It’s just little things like that where we’ve built that chemistry and it works.”
Bergeron, in particular, is having an excellent season. He leads the Bruins in goals (18), assists (26), points (44), shots (183), faceoff percentage (59.8), Corsi-for percentage (58.9 at 5-on-5) and scoring chances-for percentage (60.9 at 5-on-5). His two-way game has made him the frontrunner for the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward.
“How doesn’t (Bergeron) make my job easier? I make a mistake, and it seems like he’s always there to bail me out,” Smith said. “He’s all over the ice. I don’t really know how he does it, but he does a really good job anticipating where the puck is gonna be. He bails me and Marchand out more times than not, so it’s good to have. It seems like he’s the last one out of our (own) zone and the first one forechecking. He’s a great player, and he does a lot for this team.”
The Bruins don’t have as much depth as last season, and regardless of what happens before Monday’s trade deadline, they will need many more performances from the Bergeron line that are similar to the one it gave in Saturday’s win.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images