It’s one thing when your average hockey fan praises the Boston Bruins’ top line.
It’s another thing entirely, however, when perhaps the greatest coach in NHL history does it.
Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were up to their old tricks Saturday afternoon, accounting for three goals and eight assists in Boston’s 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. And the Bruins’ first unit left quite an impression on NHL coaching legend Scotty Bowman.
“They play like Russians when they have the puck,” Bowman said after Bergeron scored in the third period, via The Athletic’s Joe McDonald.
Bowman, who won nine Stanley Cups as a coach in his Hall-of-Fame career, perhaps is best known for leading the Montreal Canadiens to five Cups in the 1970s. For the majority of his eight seasons on the Habs’ bench, Bowman had the benefit of coaching a top line consisting of three Hockey Hall of Famers.
And while likening the Bruins’ dynamic trio to the Canadiens’ legendary line might seem far-fetched, Bowman believes its an apt comparison.
“In Montreal we had Steve Shutt, Jacques Lemaire and Guy Lafleur,” Bowman said when asked to think of a former line similar Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak’s. “They were together for seven years. Bergeron reminds me of Lemaire.”
Now that’s high praise. Sure, it’s a bit inconsistent to say the Bruins’ top line resembles both Russians and Canadiens — but you get the idea.
Bruins team president Cam Neely was wowed by Bowman’s comments, but believes the comparison is fair.
“That’s impressive,” Neely said, via McDonald. “Scotty’s seen a lot, so that’s pretty impressive. I can see why he’s comparing them. You’ve got a guy in Bergy that’s extremely responsible, a great centerman who cares about all three zones. Pasta is so creative with good speed down the wing, and the same with March, he’s very creative.
“It’s unbelievable. They read off of each other without really have to talk.”
After McDonald informed them of Bowman’s remarks, Pastrnak and Marchand both, in their own words, offered similar reactions: “Wow.”
As great as the B’s first unit has been through eight games in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s unreasonable to expect its three stars to put up such gaudy numbers each time they take the ice. Still, having a Hall-of-Fame caliber line (Bowman’s words, not ours), should make the Bruins and their fans confident about the team’s chances of hoisting hockey’s ultimate prize.
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