The Boston Bruins have the best line in hockey.
And the Bergeron line is the main reason why the team finds itself in a battle for the top spot in the conference a quarter way through the season.
The goaltending (a story for another day) will continue to be a question mark as long as Tuukka Rask struggles, and health (particularly on the blue line) has been a dubious proposition for a number of skaters. But for us Bruins fans, we thank ourlucky stars for the beautiful, the delicious, the borderline illegal combination that is David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand. The game’s best two-way player paired with two elite goal-scoring wingers, it just doesn’t get any better. Just watch them dominate a power play. It’s the definition of ease.
But just how good have they been?
David Pastrnak has a healthy lead as the NHL’s top goal scorer, with 16. He’s also tied for the league-lead in power play goals, with 7. Patrice Bergeron is second in the league in points, with 25 (9 G, 16 A). Brad Marchand has pitched in with 20 points of his own (6 G, 14 A), with 3 of his goals being game-winners. All three are on track for 30 goal seasons, with Pastrnak making 50 look like a reasonable target given his play so far.
But as much as their relentless production highlights the true talent of this trio, it also emphasizes a major (and certainly not new) issue for Boston:
Lack of consistent offense from just about anyone other than these three plagued the Bruins last year. It contributed to their struggles against Toronto in the first round of the playoffs, and it was the most glaring issue in the shellacking they received at the hands of Tampa Bay in round number two.
And this season is picking up right where the story left off in May.
The Bruins have scored a total of 53 goals this season in 17 games. Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand account for 31 of them, just shy of 60%. The Bruins have 17 power play goals so far this season. Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand account for 12 of them. All other skaters have combined for a total of 69 points.
The Bergeron line has 68 points alone.
Simply put, offensive production outside of this line has been close to non-existent. The second line (bolstered by David Krecji’s respectable 2 G, 15 A) has had its moments. But the third and fourth lines? Basically indistinguishable. David Backes, Noel Acciari, Chris Wagner, Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom, and Danton Heinen have 106 games-played between them this season. They have combined for 17 points. David Pastrnak has almost that many goals on his own.
The Bruins are 10-5-2, but think about where they would be if other lines could chip in offensively? How much damage they could do if they could rely on one or two goals a night from lines 2 through 4? One line (and a half, let’s count Krecji) is keeping them in contention for the top spot in the conference. Imagine what they could do if all their lines were rolling.
One of two things is going to happen. Either the depth guys start to figure things out and start putting some pucks in the net, or the line combinations are going to have to change. The latter would likely entail Pastrnak moving to the second line alongside Krecji. Perhaps we’d see Ryan Donato get another shot in a few weeks with the parent club. But something needs to change. It’s one thing to rely on a line to set the tone, but it’s another to force them to carry a team. It’s not sustainable.
Let’s hope the bottom two lines pick up their play before all the lines have to change. Because if they can, and opposing teams need to worry about matchups elsewhere on the roster, the Bergeron line can continue to be a nearly unstoppable force.