The Boston Bruins entered their Stanley Cup Final as the favorites against a similar type of hockey club in the St. Louis Blues, but they expected a close series to begin with. The script came to fruition through the first two games with the Bruins taking Game 1 on a come from behind win, and the Blues earning their first ever Cup Final victory in Game 2 on Carl Gunnarson’s overtime clincher.
Just like the Blues did after Game 1, the Bruins will go back to the drawing board following their Game 2 loss. One potent trio, in particular, hopes to go back to basics as the series shifts to Enterprise Center in St. Louis for Game 3.
Boston’s ‘perfection line’ featuring Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak has been anything but perfect going up against a physically-skilled St. Louis squad. The trio only notched two points during the first two games — on Marchand’s empty netter at the end of Game 1 and Pastrnak’s secondary assist on Charlie Coyle’s opening tally in Game 2.
Marchand, struggling with his own frustrations, exemplified the top line’s struggles with a short, but impactful soundbite following the overtime loss.
“Yeah, we need to be better,” Marchand said. “Personally, I wasn’t good the last two games so we can’t be playing like that.”
Blues coach Craig Berube didn’t have the last line change luxury during the first two games. But the Jack Adams Award candidate trotted out his entire arsenal to shut down Boston’s top line. Brayden Schenn’s line found the back of the net three times against the Bergeron line, while Ryan O’Reilly and Oscar Sundqvist led their respective trios to chip away and disrupt the ‘perfection line’ on ensuing shifts.
St. Louis forced the Bergeron trio to settle on low percentage plays at the perimeter thanks to a physical and aggressive forecheck. They’ve made it difficult for the Bergeron line to find any sort of rhythm through the first 123 minutes and change of the series.
“You know, I think we, as a group when we track hard I think it helps our D have good gaps and we keep them to the outside,” O’Reilly said about the Bergeron matchup. “Obviously they’re a dynamic line. They’ve got some great firepower and we’re just trying to make it as difficult as we can on these guys. Not give them momentum and just being smart, being disciplined with the puck at the right times. But again, we’ve got a lot of work left and we have to be ready for their adjustments.”
“I think everybody’s just aware of when they’re out there,” Berube added. You’ve got to be on the right side of things and do a good job and that sort of thing. That’s a dangerous line, so you’ve got to make sure you’re on the right side of things, managing the puck well [and] making them play in their own end.”
Secondary scoring ailed the Bruins during the regular season. That’s hardly been the case in the postseason as we’ve seen the likes of Coyle, Marcus Johansson and Sean Kuraly light the lamp at the game’s pivotal junctures.
The improved scoring depth came through at times when Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak struggled to produce at certain times of these playoffs. Yet, it isn’t time to lose faith in the Bergeron line. They are simply too talented to be held in check for an entire series.
This latest rough patch isn’t anything new. We’ve seen it in the first three rounds, where they’ve been slow out of the gates only to break through with timely goals later in the series, especially against Toronto and Columbus.
The Bruins had their eight-game postseason winning streak snapped in Game 2. Now, for the first time in quite a while, they’ll look to avenge a playoff loss and hope to get the ‘perfection line’ back on track Saturday night in St. Louis.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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