The New York Islanders did a fine job containing the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top line in the first round of the playoffs, only to be met with an even better top unit against the Boston Bruins.
And the Isles learned the hard way just how potent the Bruins’ top line can be. In Boston’s Game 1 win on Saturday, David Pastrnak recorded a hat trick, while that unit — Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, in particular — absolutely smothered the Islanders.
That experience prompted a pretty fascinating comparison from Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, who explained why Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak is a taller task than Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust.
“One of the questions (ahead of the series was), you did a good job against Crosby’s line, what’s the difference between Crosby’s and Bergeron’s?” Trotz said Sunday over Zoom. “I can answer that probably a little bit better (now). With Crosby’s line, there’s a great player and two very good players. On (Boston’s) line, there’s probably three great players at different points in their career, and that’s what makes that line so good. Last night they were on and they were very difficult to stop, and to me they were the difference in the game. We won’t be able to win unless we have all four lines helping to keep them contained.”
There’s little room to poke holes in Trotz’s logic. While Crosby might be the best player between the six, Guentzel and Rust easily are Nos. 5 and 6 if you’re power ranking all six forwards.
The next chance the Islanders will have to stifle the Bruins’ top line the way they did Pittsburgh’s will be Monday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven set.