While it seems like a virtual no-brainer that the Boston Bruins’ first line will remain whole and intact next season, a lot of talk has gone into what’s going to happen with the second line. There have already been rumors and discussions on whether or not the line will stay as it is, or are there changes in store for the Bergeron line.
Well, let’s get the easy one out of the way. There are only two possible ways that Patrice Bergeron leaves the TD Garden. The first is the rebirth of a Quebec Nordiques franchise. The other is the TD Garden falling into Boston Harbor. As neither of those seem likely this year, it’s safe to say that the Patron Saint of Causeway Street will be wearing the number 37 for the 2014-15 season.
The other two players on the line we have to be slightly more circumspect about.
It’s not likely that the Bruins will give up Reilly Smith. We essentially traded him for Rich Peverley. I don’t want to sound like that kind of Bruins fan, but we certainly came out ahead on that part of the deal. Smith had a fifty one point regular season for Boston and four goals in the playoffs. He brings speed to the line, and a stronger focus on two way play than his predecessor, Tyler Seguin. He’s more mature, and he understands his role on the wing. Smith’s stock is on the rise in the National Hockey League. He’s proven he can play NHL caliber hockey, and he does very well with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
That leads us to our own ‘Little Ball of Hate’, Brad Marchand. Did he let us down in the post season? Certainly. Did he have a disappointing season in Boston this year? It’s kind of hard to call Reilly Smith’s fifty one point season a rousing success and Marchand’s fifty three point season a massive let down. Marchand is a solid player who has finally learned to balance out his instigator role with his skating ability. Yes, there have been occasional lapses in common sense and self control. (Ask any Vancouver or Montreal fan, they’ll happily point out every last example.) Put against the whole though, Marchand will tear into next year with something to prove. He was part of the best line for Boston for half the season.
When you can say you’re playing better than David Krejci and Jarome Iginla, it’s hard to say “Trade the bum!” While a lot of people in the Boston media are speculating that Marchand will be moved for someone of the like of Vancouver’s Alexander Edler, I don’t see it happening. First, the Bruins will be getting back Dennis Seidenberg next year, and I can’t see the Bruins blueline being so hard up that they would make that kind of trade. (Compare Edler’s numbers to Marchand’s and it’s pretty easy math.) My prediction is that the Bruins organization will keep their top six forwards intact for next season.