Sometimes, a team has to go back to the proverbial well.
Even one as successful as the Boston Bruins.
The deep scoring depth from the four scoring lines and three defensive pairs has sparked the Bruins amid their early-season success. They’ve seen 20 of their players record a goal through the first 16 games.
Jim Montgomery now has a nearly fully-healthy lineup to work with following the returns of Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk. But the first-year Bruins coach hasn’t shied away from using a top-heavy approach when necessary.
Over the last few games, Montogmery used Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak on the top line whenever the Bruins needed a timely goal. For the most part, though, the Bruins started with a balanced lineup before reuniting the potent top trio.
That development changed when Montgomery utilized Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak on the top line before Sunday’s tilt with Vancouver.
The lineup tweak didn’t alter the production from the other three forward trios during their 5-2 win over the Canucks. The Bruins currently don’t have a desperate need to go with Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak. Instead, the coaching staff can situationally deploy a Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line without sacrificing the offensive contributions throughout their lineup.
“I don’t think it’s going to affect the scoring depth,” Montgomery said. “I think a lot of it is dependent on matchups, who we’re playing, and whether we’re at home or on the road.”
Dependency on Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak isn’t a bad thing at all. If anything, it allows the other three lines an attempt to establish continuity.
The ripple effect provided Jake DeBrusk a chance to reunite with David Krejci on the second line — this time at his off-wing. It’s also allowed DeBrusk to skate with Taylor Hall, a player he idolized during Hall’s days in Edmonton.
The versatility continues on the bottom six. Pavel Zacha, Nick Foligno and Charlie Coyle provide a formidable third trio. A gritty and energetic fourth trio of Tomas Nosek, A.J. Greer and Trent Frederic round out the recent changes.
As the other three lines establish familiarity, the Bruins enter an experimental period with the rest of their lineup. For their brief time together, the Hall-Krejci-DeBrusk trio exemplified Montgomery’s lineup approach after generating quality scoring looks in their 5v5 situations against the lowly Canucks.
“We’ve had some good shifts where we’ve been in their zone for a while, and we were able to get a 5-on-5 goal last game. Obviously, I’ve played with Krech [Krejci] before, so it’s nice to be back with him. I haven’t had anyone on the left side with Krech like Hallsy [Hall]. So It’s pretty exciting,” DeBrusk said. “It’s one of those things where I want to try balance the lines and try to make it so that we’re a threat out there and give those guys pucks whether it’s retrievals in the offensive zone.”
DeBrusk will have a little time to know Hall’s tendencies and re-establish his chemistry with Krejci. The more they gel with each rep, the more they could tempt the coaching staff to keep them together.
Of course, the latest line combinations aren’t set in stone. Between injuries and performances, the coaching staff will likely move Pastrnak away from Bergeron and Marchand to balance the lineup.
As he evaluates the chemistry throughout the lineup, Montgomery knows he has the luxury of putting Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak together at a moment’s notice, whether in the regular season or playoffs.
“I feel all forwards — primarily the top six to eight forwards — need to get used to playing with everybody. We’ve had injuries; we’re going to have more,” Montgomery said. “And in the playoffs, if something’s not working, we’ll be able to switch in-game, and guys will make it seamless. It’s a good thing for me as a coach to have up my sleeve.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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