Many considered the opening round matchup between the Bruins and Maple Leafs to be a pretty even contest. Especially considering the Maple Leafs took three-of-four from the Bruins in the regular season. However, through the first two games of the series, Toronto looks thoroughly outmatched. Especially by the Bruins top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak.
The trio combined for 14 points on Saturday night (20 through two games) in a dominating 7-3 victory in Game 2 over the Maple Leafs. It is not surprising given the fact that all three surpassed 30 goals during the regular season, notching 99 goals among them. On Saturday, Bergeron and Marchand each had four assists with Pastrnak adding in three of his own.
Of course, Pastrnak stole the show with his three goals. Two of which were highlight reel material. With his six points on the night, the 21-year-old became the youngest player to achieve that honor in a playoff game. The previous record holder? A guy named Wayne Gretzky. Additionally, his nine points through two games tie an NHL record set by former Bruin Phil Esposito.
My sweet precious angel child David Pastrnak is having fun out there pic.twitter.com/gxd3crI6O4
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 15, 2018
Now, as the series shifts to Toronto, the Maple Leafs are left wondering what they can do to stop the Bruins top line. To their credit, they were able to put pressure on the Bruins, despite falling behind by four early on. However, each time they made a push, the Bruins would answer. And often times it would be from the first line. One player that could have helped, Nazem Kadri, was handed a three-game suspension for his hit on Tommy Wingels in Game 1.
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A looming matchup in the second round with the Lightning favors the Bruins as everything is presently constituted. Despite their prowess on offense, the Lightning are still vulnerable defensively. Especially now that they may have lost Ryan Callahan with an upper-body injury. Even if they manage to slow the Bruins top line, they will have to deal with their scoring depth on lines one-through-four. Including Pastrnak’s hat trick, five different Bruins found the back of the net in Game two just as they did in Game one. Even potential Eastern Conference Finals matchups with one of the four Metro Division teams seem similarly in favor of the Bruins.
It wasn’t too long ago that the leagues best teams were built around dominating top lines. To a degree they still are, however, in today’s game, scoring depth is more important. In the past, some of the best teams were identified mostly by their top line. The Flyers Eric Lindros, John LeClair, and Mikael Renberg comprised the ‘Legion of Doom’ line in the mid-90’s. By the start of the 21st century, New Jersey’s top line of Patrick Elias, Jason Arnott, and Petr Sykora was leading the Devils to two Stanley Cup Championships and three appearances.
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Now, the Bruins present a similarly dominating top line. One they hope will help lead them their second Stanley Cup victory this decade.
— Full Press NHL (@FPC_NHL) April 15, 2018