Brad Marchand is the Boston Bruins’ top scorer, leading the team in both goals and assists. And naturally, given everything he brings to the ice, one player can’t replace him.
So in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre, multiple players elected to step up in order to fill the void for the B’s.
Boston has been fortunate to have the best first line in the NHL, but when Marchand was hit with a five-game suspension for elbowing New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson on Tuesday, the Bruins called up rookie Anders Bjork from Providence, forcing them to make some changes in the lineup.
While plenty of the scoring this season — and especially of late — has come from Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, Thursday’s goals came from three different sources.
Bjork originally began the night in Marchand’s spot on the first line, but he was swapped with third-line winger Danton Heinen. Heinen clearly was a perfect fit and scored the first goal of the game.
“I talked to both players, Heinen and Bjork, and said we may (switch them mid-game),” head coach Bruce Cassidy said, as seen on NESN’s Bruins postgame coverage. “I didn’t want Anders to be rattled if we moved him a line. I said, ‘Listen we’re going to throw you in (Marchand’s) spot just for continuity’ … and I told Danton we may make the switch just because Danton’s been playing here all year and (Bergeron) tends to draw a tough matchup. And I think it benefitted both of them.”
Tim Schaller added a shorthanded goal for the Bruins, while Jake DeBrusk added the game-winner.
It’s easy to look at what the top line is capable of and chalk up most of the Bruins’ success to them, but the reality is the Bruins haven’t been a top-heavy team when it comes to forwards, and that was apparent in Thursday’s win.
Boston is in a good place in that they haven’t had to tweak with their lines too much and that the combinations on all four lines have meshed remarkably well. But what’s more important is that when interchangeability amongst forwards is needed, it doesn’t set the Bruins back.
There are four more games for Boston’s forwards to be tested in Marchand’s absence. Although Thursday had its ups and downs against a disappointing Senators team, the Bruins are showing they won’t just fold simply because their best offensive player isn’t on the ice.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Senators:
— The Bruins’ 18-game point streak is tied for second-longest in team history, matching the streak set by the 1968-69 Bruins.
— Tuukka Rask is the fifth goaltender in Bruins history to record a point or more in at least 18 straight decisions.
— Boston conceded the first goal for the seventh consecutive game.
— After being a healthy scratch for the previous 13 games, Frank Vatrano logged 7:10 ice time with one shot on goal, three hits and four penalty minutes.