BOSTON (CBS) — Through eight postseason games, the top line of the Boston Bruins is not performing up to par.
David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla finished first, third and fourth, respectively, on the Bruins in scoring this season. Krejci led the way with 50 assists and 69 points, while Iginla was just one of two Bruins with 30 goals. Lucic wasn’t too far behind with 24.
Yet in the playoffs, the top scoring trio has struggled to contribute its share of scoring. While the numbers say they’re doing OK — Lucic has four goals, Iginla has three — the fact is that for much of the games, the line has had trouble clicking. Much of the chemistry that made them so successful in the regular season has seemingly evaporated, and the result is an increased burden for the Bruins’ other lines — and the defensemen — to do the scoring.
Head coach Claude Julien said after his team’s loss in Game 3 that, quite simply, the Bruins need more from that top line.
“This is a line that has been hot and cold for us so far in the playoffs. We need them,” Julien said. “David has shown a little bit of frustration there, so he’s got to battle through that stuff. But again, it’s a line that’s given us a lot this year, and sometimes you have to have a little bit of trust. Right now, that’s what I’ve got.
“But things have to get better for that line for us to be successful.”
The aforementioned production has been a little inflated, as Lucic and Iginla each have an empty-net goal, with Krejci picking up two of his three assists on those empty-netters.
Julien seemed to admit that he at least considered breaking up his top line during Tuesday’s Game 3, but he elected not to in order to not disrupt his other two scoring lines.
“[Carl] Soderberg’s line was doing something,” Julien said of the recently formed third line of Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Daniel Paille. “You gotta look at what you’re going to break up to make that happen here.”
Ultimately, Julien’s best decision may be to make no change at all. Krejci has done it before, leading the league in postseason points twice in his career already. Lucic was nearly a point-per-game player last postseason, when he posted 7-12-19 totals in 22 games. Iginla was tied for the team lead in goals this year.
Julien simply needs his best forwards to play at the level they’re capable of playing. The coach has put the challenge out there. Now it’s up to Krejci, Lucic and Iginla to answer it.
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