Did the famed Boston Bruins ‘Perfection Line’ know that the forward lines would be reshuffled before Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy decided to pull the trigger and split up arguably the best line in the NHL?
Cassidy was asked Wednesday if he discussed the changes with alternate captain and winger Brad Marchand, captain, and center Patrice Bergeron, and winger David Pastrnak before he decided to spread the scoring wealth on his forward lines.
“I’ll be honest, I met with Bergy [Bergeron], Marsh [Marchand], and Pasta [Pastrnak] had a little powwow,” Cassidy told the media in a Zoom call on Wednesday. “They have a great pulse of the room. … This was more just me with those three, get some feedback from them. Even though you’re there every day, sometimes guys will get a shift here and there and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I read pretty well off that guy.’ For example, the other night Marchy’s in the box … so people get moved around, or a guy leaves to get his skate sharpened. You get pockets of that every game where a guy might say, ‘Hey, I think I could play with this guy, or I worked one day with him in training camp or practice.’ So that was a bit of the discussion and that’s how we kind of arrived at some of the different combinations.”
Since Cassidy, made the drastic, and some would say, long-overdue changes, that featured moving Pastrnak down to the second line with Erik Haula at center and Taylor Hall on the left wing, and Craig Smith into Pastrnak’s right wing slot with Bergeron and Marchand, the Boston Bruins are 3-0-0. Since returning from the COVID/Holiday pause the B’s have outscored their opponents 14-7 over the last three games with 13 of those 14 goals coming from different scorers. Forward Trent Frederic is the only player to have two or more goals over the last three games.
Another Boston Bruins player that has seemed to find his game again is center Charlie Coyle who is back in the familiar and seemingly for Coyle, a more comfortable role in the 3C slot. Coyle has a goal and an assist in his last three games with Nick Foligno and Jake DeBrusk on his wings the first two games since the changes and now rookie Oskar Steen since DeBrusk went into COVID Protocol again on Tuesday.
“And then moving Charlie back to the third hole, we know Charlie has played with different guys over the years and can pull a line along, especially this year, it’s going really well,” Cassidy went on talking about Coyle. “You could say he’s the one who got demoted but got more responsibility to pull more guys into it. So, give him a lot of credit for not balking at the idea.”
Cassidy also thinks adding the dynamic Pastrnak, who snapped a three-game goalless streak in a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils Tuesday, has sparked Hall’s game as well.
“(Taylor) Hall and Pasta, I think it gets Taylor excited,” Cassidy said. “It gets some speed on his other side. A guy like Pasta, that I think he liked Pasta’s game and what he brings and appreciates it, and they’re good friends. It takes the onus off them and does not worry about who the center is. I don’t know if there was one particular guy, I think it was the team. We just needed to score more, we needed to generate more, finish more. Sometimes moving things around helps, sometimes it doesn’t. In this particular case, we’re getting some good results now. Let’s see how it sustains itself moving forward.”