BOSTON — “Missing” posters are going to start floating around Causeway Street soon unless the Boston Bruins’ top line starts to show up.
Through two games this Stanley Cup Final, Boston’s top trio of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have been, in a word, bad.
Now, to be fair, they also are squaring off against some tough forward groups and defensive pairings who are hellbent on making sure to neutralize them. However, it’s gotten to the point where the Bergeron line simply is being smothered.
Let’s recap how they’ve been through two games.
The three have combined for two points. One was Marchand’s empty net goal at the end of Boston’s Game 1 win, and the other was a secondary assist by Pastrnak in the 3-2 Game 2 overtime loss Wednesday night. Pastrnak’s apple was on the power play, and the other forwards on the ice were Marchand, Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk.
Meanwhile, they’ve been on the ice for three of of St. Louis’ five goals this series, and a giveaway from Pastrnak directly was responsible for one of those tallies.
So what’s the deal? Well, it could be many things.
But for Blues head coach Craig Berube, it starts with keeping Boston’s top line out of the attacking end.
“You know, I don’t know if we… they’re going to get opportunities,” Berube said. “That’s a great line. We all know that. I mean, I think (Jay) Bouwmeester and (Colton) Parayko were out there 90 percent of the time against them. They’ve done a great job. We’ve used different lines against them, whether it’s (Oskar) Sundqvist’s line, (Brayden) Schenn’s line, you know, (Ryan) O’Reilly at times. They’re out there against them.
“I think everybody’s just aware of when they’re out there,” Berube continued. “You’ve got to be on the right side of things and do a good job and that sort of thing, like that’s a dangerous line, so you’ve got to make sure you’re on the right side of things, managing the puck well, making them play in their own end.”
Of all the players who spoke, Ryan O’Reilly gave the best assessment of what specifically the Blues have done.
“You know, I think we, as a group when we track hard I think it helps our D have good gaps and we keep them to the outside,” O’Reilly said. “Obviously they’re a dynamic line; they’ve got some great firepower and we’re just trying to make it as difficult as we can on these guys. Not give them momentum and just being smart, being disciplined with the puck at the right times. But again, we’ve got a lot of work left and we have to be ready for their adjustments.”
The Bergeron line has been shut down pretty much from the start, and when asked if they had made any adjustments between Game 1 and 2 in how they played the line, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said they hadn’t.
“Nope, we just played them tight. Played them aggressive like we wanted to from the beginning,” the captain said.
Added Sammy Blais: “They’re three really good players, they’re three superstars in this league. We’ve got to play hard against them and I think we’ve done a good job playing against them hard.”
Again, it’s tough for the Bruins’ top line to get much going when such specific emphasis is placed on stopping them — but that’s the reality of being among the NHL’s best lines. To their credit, they’ve started series slow before and bounced back in a big way, so there’s plenty of proof that they’re capable of figuring things out between now and Saturday’s Game 3.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images