Bruins Can’t Rely Solely on First Line for Scoring

By Ethan Nash

The Boston Bruins were the best team in the National Hockey League during the 2019-20 regular season. Before the season was halted in mid-March due to the outbreak of COVID-19, they were dominant, amassing 100 points – six more than the next best team – to capture their third Presidents’ Trophy in the franchise’s history.

Regular Season

Over the course of the regular season, the Bruins played 70 games, scoring a total of 227 goals. Of those 227 goals, the first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak accounted for 107 of them. Do some quick math and you’ll discover that that comes out to 47.1% of the team’s scoring. Essentially half of the goals the Bruins scored during the regular season came from the so-called “Perfection Line.”

Now take a look at the Colorado Avalanche, a team that many believe have the best line in hockey in Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. Despite the fact that Landeskog and Rantanen sustained injuries this season, the Avalanche scored 237 goals in 70 games. MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen combined for only 75 of those which comes out to 31.6% of the team’s overall scoring. Even without some of their star players for an extended period of time, they received scoring from throughout their lineup and managed to score 10 more goals on the year than the Bruins.

Looking Back

One of the reasons the Bruins were so successful in last year’s playoffs – other than the fact that they played the Toronto Maple Leafs and two wild card teams – was because they received scoring from all four lines. Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci combined for 27 points in 24 games on the second line. On the fourth line, Sean Kuraly totaled four goals and 10 points and on the third line, arguably the Bruins’ best line of the entire playoffs, Charlie Coyle notched nine goals and seven assists while Marcus Johansson tallied 11 points in 22 games. Oh, and Danton Heinen also added two goals and six assists for all the Heinen haters out there.

This Year’s Playoffs

This postseason will have to be more of the same if the Bruins want to return to the Stanley Cup Final. There will be times when the first line struggles as they did last year against the St. Louis Blues. Just take a look at yesterday’s round robin tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers:

Guys like Coyle, DeBrusk, Krejci and Kuraly will once again be called upon to step up in during these moments. The black and gold will also look to Jack Studnicka, Anders Bjork, and – I say this without any expectations whatsoever – Ondrej Kase for contributions.

As is the case with every team in the NHL, more scoring depth leads directly to more wins. For teams that face the Bruins, it’s hard enough as it is to shut down the first line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak. If the B’s can rely on all four lines to put the puck in the back of the net, they’ll once again find themselves competing for the greatest trophy in all of sports.

Ethan Nash

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