Boston Bruins: Past two games give reason to break up top line

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with teammate Boston Bruins center Brad Marchand (63) after scoring during the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins on November 19, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with teammate Boston Bruins center Brad Marchand (63) after scoring during the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins on November 19, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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NEWARK, NJ – NOVEMBER 19: Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with teammate Boston Bruins center Brad Marchand (63) after scoring during the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins on November 19, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Boston Bruins played the last two games without Patrice Bergeron in the lineup. Injuries are never a good thing, but in this case, Bergeron’s absence did give us the chance to see a new first line.

David Krejci took Bergeron’s spot in between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. And through games, this top line looked almost as dangerous as it did before.

Saturday night against Washington, Pastrnak scored his league-leading 17th goal of the season. Krejci picked up a secondary assist. Pastrnak also had five total shots on goal.

It’s safe to say Pastrnak didn’t struggle without Bergeron on the ice. In fact, he looked like his normal, high-energy, ultra-productive self.

Marchand, on the other hand, didn’t have his best game against the Capitals. He only had one shot on goal in over 24 minutes of ice time.

He did find his touch Tuesday in New Jersey. Marchand had three assists, including one on the power play.

Pastrnak was also impressive against the Devils. He scored two goals, one at even strength and one on the power play. The first goal came off nice feeds from Marchand and Krejci, who had two helpers on the night.

https://twitter.com/NHLBruins/status/1196953553878708224

The top line dominated like it has all season long. Pastrnak was virtually unstoppable against the Devils, and Marchand wasn’t far behind.

All in all, here’s how the Marchand-Krejci-Pastrnak trio fared in the past two games:

  • Marchand: three assists
  • Krejci: three assists
  • Pastrnak: three goals

Not bad for life without Bergeron.

Of course, the Bruins will be significantly better with Bergeron back Thursday night against the Sabres. He remains their best player, and they need his presence in the lineup. Nothing we saw these last two games tells us otherwise.

Nonetheless, what these games do tell us is that once Bergeron is back, Bruce Cassidy needs to consider changes with the top line.

The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line is the best in hockey. Based on everything we’ve seen this season, there’s really no debate. That said, there isn’t anything magic that happens when they are out there on the ice together.

That top line works because all three players are elite in their own right. Pastrnak and Marchand can score at will, while Bergeron might be the best two-way player in hockey.

So, even if Cassidy breaks up the line, each player will still produce. Say, for example, Cassidy moves Pastrnak off the wing and puts him with Krejci. Do we really expect his production to drop?

In the last two games as Krejci’s right wing, Pastrnak scored three goals. Two of them came at even strength off assists from Krejci.

Marchand might be a different story, especially since we saw him struggle without Bergeron against Washington. Marchand and Bergeron obviously have a great history together, so Cassidy needs to keep them together.

But that doesn’t mean Pastrnak needs to be on their right wing. Honestly, put anybody on the right with Bergeron and Marchand; it won’t matter. That line will still produce.

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The Bruins need a more balanced scoring attack. We all know it. Pastrnak ripped it up with Krejci these past two games, so why not give these two an extended look. It might be the thing that helps put the Bruins over the top.