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The new top-six for the Bruins works and needs to stay

Oct 2, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with left wing Taylor Hall (71) after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with left wing Taylor Hall (71) after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /
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A one-line team has been a pretty accurate way to describe the Boston Bruins in the 2021-22 season.

Until now – hopefully.

Through the first two games of 2022 – a 4-3 OT win over the Buffalo Sabres and a 5-1 beating of the Detroit Red Wings – the Bruins have shown flashes of something they very much have lacked all season and that is depth scoring.

Nine different Bruins tallied goals this weekend and 14 total Bruins registered a point on the two-win weekend. And it should come as no surprise that it’s a result of Bruce Cassidy re-shaping the top two lines.

The new top-six group allows for more depth scoring from the Bruins

Yes, we’re talking about only two games here. And yes, we’re perhaps jumping to early conclusions.

But what the Bruins did this weekend is something we haven’t seen from them all season. Every now and then, there’s a game where the top dogs aren’t the ones putting the puck in the net. But it either lasts just the one game or it comes in a losing effort.

Not this past weekend. The new combinations were debuted and they worked to perfection. Craig Smith slid up to the first line to play with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in David Pastrnak’s spot while Erik Haula was bumped up to the second line to play with Taylor Hall and Pastrnak. Charlie Coyle centered the third line with Nick Foligno and Jake DeBrusk.

Like I mentioned, nine different goal scorers on the weekend and oh, by the way, Marchand and Pastrnak were not among the nine. Marchand contributed three assists the past two games, while Pastrnak was pointless (which is another story for another time).

Instead, we saw Foligno and Trent Frederic secure their first goals of the season. Tomas Nosek had his third goal of the season and Erik Haula scored his second goal on the year, his first in 15 games.

You know what we call that in the business? Secondary scoring. Kind of a foreign concept to the Boston area this season.

By splitting up the usual top line, it allows someone like Hall to play a bigger role in the offense. We saw when Marchand was out that Hall can take over a game. That is, when he’s with other top-talent players. He was stuck in a limbo playing with Coyle and Smith/Haula/Foligno/whatever winger was on the right side. He needs other talent around him for him to be at his best, and we saw that chemistry with Pastrnak.

Putting Haula on the second line allows him to not have to be the main force being the offense on his line. In fact, he can take a backseat with Hall and Pastrnak taking the heavy workload. He’s been arguably the most snakebitten Bruin throughout the season, but this allows him to the beneficiary rather than the benefactor.

And finally, let’s face it – you could put Jack the chimpanzee from MVP: Most Valuable Primate (great movie) alongside Marchand and Bergeron and he’s putting up points. Smith is relentless on the forecheck and goes to the dirty areas to get goals. He had a ton of success when he played on this line last season and we saw it again this past weekend.

This was just the first period of the Sabres game:

This is the only way the Bruins are going to get far. They can’t be the team that only goes as far as 63, 37 and 88 take them. They need the rest of the lineup to contribute and be a positive force night in and night out.

And again, it’s two games. But it’s something that was vacant all season up to this point.

Next. Craig Smith rediscovering his offensive touch. dark

It’s a sign that breaking up the best line in hockey, while a tough decision, is the right one for this Boston team.