Can the Bruins ever break up this top line & more
I've jumped on and off the "The Bruins need to break up the top line" ship too many times to count. Even talking about the idea of separating David Pastrnak from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand seems laughable to me right now.
I mean, this is a line that's accounted for 23 of Boston's 36 goals out of the gate this year. That's a whopping 63.88 percent (oh, the irony of numbers). Pastrnak and Marchand, meanwhile, became the quickest Bruins to 20 points since Adam Oates was ruining lives with Cam Neely almost 30 years ago. And Pastrnak, of course, leads the NHL in both goals (11) and points (23) through the opening weeks of the 2019-20 NHL season.
So why the rush to break them up?
Well, it's easier to gameplan for just shutting one line down.
Now, shutting this line down isn't easy. I mean, if it were, they wouldn't be this ridiculous out of the gate for the second year in a row. But there will be a point where they slow down -- be it due to an improved defensive scouting or injuries (see: last year's Stanley Cup Final) -- and the Bruins will be clinging to the rest of their roster for dear life. I mean, just consider this: With 63-37-88 neutralized/too quiet in last year's seven-game series with the Blues, Sean Kuraly and/or Joakim Nordstrom were the Bruins' best forwards in the Cup.
It's tough to win when that's the case.
And these Bruins have set themselves up for this kind of year once again.
The counter point is that David Krejci (lower-body, now upper-body) hasn't been healthy at all this year, and it's a waste of time to move Pastrnak off that line if he's not going to play with Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on the B's second line. But when you look at the Bruins' usage at right wing behind Pastrnak, it's slim and none. You're talking about a group that includes Brett Ritchie, David Backes, Chris Wagner, and Danton Heinen (playing his off wing). That's not exactly the Murderers' Row of scoring threats that Cassidy can utilize at the same rate as No. 88, and Heinen is really the only player out of that group who has experience with Bergeron and Marchand.
Thinking long-term, it would be of interest to the Bruins to tinker with moving Pastrnak down to Krejci's line, and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy knows it.
He also knows there's nothing that says he can't do that and then reunite Pastrnak with Bergeron and Marchand if the team is trailing in the third period and needs a goal.
But there's also nothing telling him he can afford to break 'em up at this point in time.
Here are some other thoughts from another week of NHL action...
- I was covering yesterday's Browns-Patriots debacle in rainy Foxborough, but didn't get to watch too, too much of Sunday's game between the Bruins and Rangers, but are these Rangers for real? I can't believe I thought this team was going to be a playoff-caliber challenge this year. The Bruins made them look like children in the defensive zone, and I actually for the first time in my life felt bad for the Rangers. Then I remembered that dude in a Nigel Dawes jersey who told me to "Go back to BAHHHHSTUN" back in like 2009 and I immediately started laughing.
In an offseason of victories for the Devils and Rangers, the Islanders still run New York.
- Did you know there was an outdoor game this past weekend? Because I absolutely didn't until it already happened. It's kind of incredible that the NHL is this bad at marketing their events. Or maybe it speaks to a greater point: Put these games on the shelf for the next five years. Make them special. (That said, I'm sure it was a great event for those in Regina, of course.)
- Wanna see something awful?
Call me a neanderthal, but you gotta do something when that happens. I don't care if it's not in your DNA as a player or team. Throw a cross-check, throw a shoulder. Just do something. When you do nothing, it allows the entire league to think that it's open season on your guys, and that narrative will follow you until you do something about it.
- That Vladimir Tarasenko news is gonna be a killer for the Blues. This is a team that's really not built to create a ton of high-danger offense on their own.
Ty Anderson is a writer, columnist, and weird personality for 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, where he covers all things Boston sports. He has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, and has also been part of the Boston Chapter of the PHWA since 2013. In addition to writing, Ty can occasionally be heard on the air at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and seen and/or heard on the NHL Network every now and then. He will not give you his email, so yell at him on Twitter (@_TyAnderson).