Secondary scoring was an issue for the Boston Bruins throughout the regular season, but it was provided Monday night in Toronto.
Unfortunately for the B’s, their vaunted top line was nowhere to be found.
David Krejci and Charlie Coyle provided the Bruins’ two goals in their Game 3 loss to the Maple Leafs. The trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, however, was held pointless while logging a combined seven shots on goal as Toronto took a 2-1 lead in the teams’ first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
Boston’s top line hasn’t been completely nullified in the series, combining for three goals and three assists, but the unit hasn’t provided the level of production and general play that’s expected. Following Monday’s loss, B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy offered insight into the surprising woes.
“They’re having a tougher time getting to the net,” Bruce Cassidy told reporters, per The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa. “As a result, I think they’re trying real hard one-on-one to get there. They’ve got to use each other a little bit better and get an old-fashioned goal, whether it’s a center-lane drive, puck to the net, a second chance. They’re pretty determined guys. They’ll find their way. But they’re against a very committed fivesome, right now, I find, to keeping them off the scoresheet. That’s a lot of playoff hockey. So I do believe a second-chance goal is in their future if they start funneling pucks a little more. Getting some pucks to the net off the rush, now it’s a bit of D-zone coverage sort-outs for them. They’re pretty good at finding each other if (the Leafs are) not on time. I think we need a little bit more of that where they get the other team having to make a decision.”
Cassidy briefly broke up his first line during Game 3, skating Pastrnak with Coyle and Danton Heinen before the star winger returned to his normal slot. Boston’s head coach clearly isn’t afraid to shuffle things around, but it doesn’t sound like he believes a high-leverage tactical change is needed at this time.
“If we feel if it’s really an impediment of us having success, then we’re going to get away from it and break up the line,” Cassidy said. “We do it at times. We move Pasta (Pastrnak) around. But at the end of the day, if that’s the matchup (Babcock) wants, he’s going to get it. … Even on the road, you can get it at certain points. We tried to get away from it on some icings to see if it would work our way. But tonight, it wasn’t able to go. We’ll see how it plays out Wednesday. Honestly, I don’t mind it. It’s two good lines going head to head every night. It’s going to tilt our way at some point. Our players are too good.”
The fact of the matter is, the Leafs’ first line simply has been better than the Bruins’ thus far in the series. And if Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak aren’t able to change that narrative, the B’s could be embarking on summer vacation earlier than they hoped.
Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images