Kalman: Bruins’ Top Six In Dominant Form
BOSTON (CBS) – Here’s a tip for the Montreal Canadiens, who arrive at TD Garden for the first time this season on Thursday.
The Canadiens would be wise to pay extra close attention to Patrice Bergeron’s line because it’s that trio’s turn to dominate on the score sheet.
One night after Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith led the Bruins to a 6-3 road win against the New York Islanders with a nine-point outburst, the line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla produced seven points in a 6-2 rout of the Florida Panthers at the Garden on Tuesday night.
Prior to the win on Long Island, it was Krejci, Lucic and Iginla who, led by Iginla’s four-point game, combined for nine points in a 6-1 road rout of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon. So when the Canadiens take the ice, it’ll be Bergeron’s line’s turn in the Bruins’ nightly game of “can you top this.”
Of course, the Bruins don’t really look at it that way. They’re more concerned with just getting enough scoring to win, regardless of where the goals are coming from.
“I mean, you got to stay positive and if you want the other guys to score, you wish them luck, you wish them the best and the positive energy comes back on your stick,” Krejci said after the Bruins made Tim Thomas briefly consider watching the State of the Union as a better activity than facing Boston on the ice. “We’re a pretty good group of guys here. We all like each other. So we all wish the best for each other. We’ve been playing pretty good, so it’s good to see, not just us but all four lines are putting the puck in the net.”
The Bruins have been getting scoring from other sources than their top six forwards. Zdeno Chara has a three-game goal streak with four in that span. Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg and even fancy-hands Shawn Thornton have scored during the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and six-game stretch without a regulation loss (5-0-1).
But the top six are making sure that the Bruins aren’t just winning, they’re running away with these games. And when at least one, if not both, of those lines is clicking, it looks like a grownup game of keep-away with other teams unable to turn the puck over or even come close to dislodging it from a Bruins’ stick or intercepting a pass.
To be fair, Lucic’s first of two goals against the Panthers came at the end of a play that started with a giveaway by Iginla before Jonathan Huberdeau returned the favor with a gaffe of his own. But after that, it was all about possession and net-front presence and the ability to make it look like the opposition wasn’t resisting. Lucic scored on a rebound to make it 3-0. Krejci scored an unassisted goal with a shot that probably never beat Thomas back in the days of him practicing with the Bruins.
With the exception of Smith filling the right-wing spot on Bergeron’s line instead of Loui Eriksson, Boston’s top six are performing exactly how Peter Chiarelli envisioned they would when he put this team together last summer. Sure, they lack a player with 50-goal capability. But a balanced attack led them to a championship in 2011 and nearly earned them a second in three years in 2013. Sharing the wealth is the Bruins’ calling card.
And even if they don’t want to put line against line, it’s a fun exercise to predict which trio will make the night more difficult for the opponent on a nightly basis. We’ll see if Bergeron’s bunch can continue the pattern Thursday.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.