Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

Bruins 3, Red Wings 1: Bergeron Line is the NHL's best line

Ty Anderson
December 23, 2017 - 5:54 pm

A Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak first line is unfair.

But the Bruins, winners of their season-best matching fourth straight game by way of a 3-1 final over the Red Wings at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon, don’t really care.

Matched up against a Detroit group that typically plays the Bruins harder than their record would indicate, it was the Bergeron line that carried the Bruins yet again, combining for all three Boston goals, and totaling seven points in the winning effort.

“I’m glad they’re on our team,” B’s defenseman Charlie McAvoy said of the line. “That’s a matchup I wouldn’t want to play against. They’re all so skilled, they all think the game very well. They’re always in the right position, they’re always making plays happen. I think their hockey IQs is what allows them to have the success they have.”

They’re just an impossibly difficult group to contain -- Bergeron and Marchand are 200-foot monsters while Pastrnak’s on-puck creativity is enough to make any defender look like an ECHL journeyman -- almost to the point where today just seemed like another day for the group. And it isn’t just at five-on-five or early in the game while the others are simply still warming up to their competition that they present these problems.

It was Marchand, with the help of an assist in the middle from David Backes, that opened the game’s scoring on the power play. It was in the third period of a tied game that Marchand, with a defender draped on his back, that returned the favor with a dish of his own, to Bergeron. Bergeron failed to miss, and beat Jimmy Howard for a goal.

“It was more of a better shot than a pass,” Marchand, who now has 32 points in 26 games this season, said in an attempt to pass the credit to his linemate of seven years. “He one-timed it in stride and really didn’t give the goalie a chance to get over there.”

They capped their afternoon -- though with David Backes out there instead of Pastrnak in an attempt to beef up their own-zone layers in protection of a one-goal lead -- with No. 37 successfully finding an empty-net tally despite getting hooked down to the ice.

It was a worth a simple but echoing, “How?”

It’s not the only time you’ve asked that in regards to these players.

Bergeron credits the chemistry and the ability for all three players to assume different roles and get to different, once uncharted territories of the offensive end, whereas Marchand believes that it's just a mix that's difficult for any one team to necessarily focus on when the puck crosses into their own zone. 

“It’s because we have a little bit of everything,” Marchand said of the line’s obvious success since first created last season. “Pasta [David Pastrnak] obviously has a ton a skill and makes a lot of good plays and Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] is so good defensively he creates a ton of turnovers and then he’s unreal offensively too and creates opportunities and he can score goals from anywhere. We just handle the puck. I think that’s our biggest asset – we recover a lot of pucks and get a lot of second opportunities when teams are cheating so I think that’s probably the biggest thing.”

Not only did they account for the bulk of the Black and Gold’s offensive production, but Bergeron once again dominated at the dot, with wins in 15 of his 20 faceoffs, including a nine of 10 mark in the defensive zone complete with a game-sealing win late.

This afternoon of defensive zone dominance was not exclusive to this victory, either, as the line has still not been on the ice for a five-on-five goal against after about 200 minutes as a line this season (they’ve outscored opponents 10-0 when together).

“Bergy as a centerman, he’s always in the middle. He’s always that kind of safety valve, when he’s out there I’m confident we’re going to be alright and we’re going to be playing in their zone,” McAvoy continued. “They get good possession when they get set up in the [offensive] zone so it makes our lives easier having a line like that and they came through again tonight with some big goals and just like every night they’re huge for us.”

And an unmatched and unstoppable nightmare for the rest of the league.

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