Bruce Cassidy never has shied away from switching up his lines, but he, for the most part, kept the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak together.
That changed after the extended NHL pause prior to the holiday break, though, and the results speak for themselves after moving Craig Smith to the first line, Pastrnak to the second and Charlie Coyle back to his natural third-line position.
The Boston Bruins are in the midst of a three-game win streak and have scored 14 goals during that stretch. They have received secondary scoring, Pastrnak ended his nine-game goal drought and the team as a whole just seems to be clicking.
But the decision to jumble the lines didn’t come overnight. In fact, Cassidy revealed he had a meeting with Bergeron, Pastrnak and Marchand before committing to it.
“I’ll be honest, I met with Bergy, Marsh and Pasta, had a little powwow. They have a great pulse of the room. … This was more just me with those three, get some feedback from them,” Cassidy said over Zoom on Wednesday. “Even though you’re there every day, sometimes guys will get a shift here and there and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I read pretty well off that guy.’ For example, the other night Marchy’s in the box … so people get moved around, or a guy leaves to get his skate sharpened. You get pockets of that every game where a guy might say, ‘Hey, I think I could play with this guy, or I worked one day with him in training camp or practice.’ So that was a bit of the discussion and that’s how we kind of arrived at some of the different combinations.
“And then moving Charlie back to the third hole, we know Charlie has played with different guys over the years and can pull a line along, especially this year, it’s going really well. You could say he’s the one who got demoted but got more responsibility to pull more guys into it. So, give him a lot of credit for not balking at the idea.
“(Taylor) Hall and Pasta, I think it gets Taylor excited. It gets some speed on his other side. A guy like Pasta, that I think he liked Pasta’s game and what he brings and appreciates it, and they’re good friends. It takes the onus off them and not worry about who the center is. I don’t know if there was one particular guy, I think it was the team. We just needed to score more, we needed to generate more, finish more. Sometimes moving things around helps, sometimes it doesn’t. In this particular case we’re getting some good results now. Let’s see how it sustains itself moving forward.”
For now, it seems Cassidy indeed will stick with what’s been working.
The Bruins get back to action Thursday night when they welcome the Minnesota Wild to TD Garden. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. ET.