Kalman: Tyler Who? Bruins’ Marchand-Bergeron-Smith Line’s The Hottest In Hockey
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BOSTON (CBS) – The production began to kick up in that disappointing loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden Jan. 14, but then it really kicked into high gear, ironically, two nights later on the road against Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars.
And as the Bruins return home from their two-game road trip that featured them winning both games and scoring 12 total goals (a season-high for consecutive contests) against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders, they might have to warn the Fire Marshall about the arrival of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith back on Causeway Street.
Because right now, the Bergeron Line, widely classified as the Bruins’ second line, is a raging, four-alarm inferno.
That trio’s hot hands continued in the 6-3 victory (which was easier than the score suggests) against the Islanders Monday night. Marchand had one goal with three assists, Bergeron scored one goal and added two assists, and Smith put one of each on the score sheet as all three players ran their point streaks to six games.
In those six games, Boston’s best two-way line has produced 30 points.
It’s enough to make even the most ardent Seguin fan to look at the former Bruins forward’s 48 points in his first 50 games for Dallas, and then glance at the Bruins’ perch atop the Atlantic Division powered lately by the point barrage of Seguin’s old line and ask, “Tyler who?”
Seguin-Bergeron-Marchand was the Bruins’ best line in the lockout-shortened regular season in 2013. Then that trio fell off in the postseason and wound up breaking up. After the Seguin trade, Loui Eriksson was seen as the heir apparent to the spot to Bergeron’s right. Well, injuries, illness and ineffectiveness (Marchand had just five goals through the season’s first few months) made the Bruins’ second-line an influx liability. Even “Mr. Perfect” Patrice Bergeron wasn’t performing to his high standards with the revolving doors on his wings failing to turn in NHL-caliber performances most nights.
While David Krejci’s line carried the Bruins and helped them gain an early hold on first place, everyone knew it wasn’t sustainable for the Bruins to continue winning with one line scoring. That’s not a successful formula for any team, especially the Bruins.
The Bruins need four lines to play hard and at least two lines to be an offensive threat to play at a championship level. As things got worse for Bergeron’s various lines, garbage rumors about trading Marchand were manufactured and doubts that Eriksson might never be the same player after two concussions justifiably emerged. Well, whether Eriksson returns to form or not might not matter to Bergeron’s line, because Smith has emerged as the gem of the Seguin trade.
Now with Marchand making a bid for player of the month honors (8-6-14 totals in 11 games in January), Bergeron playing like an Olympian and Smith continuing his run at the Seventh Player Award, the only thoughts are about whether Bergeron’s line will cause folks to rethink which of Boston’s top two lines is No. 1.
Meanwhile, Eriksson (who scored against the Islanders) can continue to shake off the rust from his injury absence without the pressure of playing a top-six role. And the Bruins can continue to look for complementary pieces on the trade market rather than considering a pricey forward to spark the once-moribund top six.
With all the points they’ve been producing, all Marchand, Bergeron and Smith are missing is a strong line nickname. Considering how they’ve answered worries that they’d miss Seguin, they could be called Tyler Who?
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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