Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports

Why Bruins aren’t using a Marchand-Krejci-Pastrnak line ... for now

Matt Kalman
November 29, 2018 - 2:39 pm

When the Bruins have a healthy Patrice Bergeron coach Bruce Cassidy loads up his first line with Bergeron flanked by Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and hopes his secondary lines can find a way to contribute.

With Bergeron out with a rib injury, Cassidy has opted to not stick David Krejci between Marchand and Pastrnak, and adhere to the same philosophy. In fact the Marchand-Krejci-Pastrnak combination has only played 11 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time together this season, according to


Well it starts with the Bruins’ love of the Krejci-Jake DeBrusk pair, which admittedly has enjoyed a lot of success since DeBrusk moved to right wing. Krejci has 10 assists in his past 11 games; DeBrusk has five goals in his past seven games.

Cassidy expanded his theory Thursday after the morning skate in preparation for the Bruins’ game against the New York Islanders:

“Marshy and Pasta in my estimation create offense – I don’t want to say on their own because that’s disrespectful to whoever you put in there – but we’re asking them to do a little more with a different type of centerman. If you put Krejci up there, now you’re really hurting I think from the [top] down. I don’t think it’s a similar argument to moving [Pastrnak to the second line] to balance things before. Because we always had Krejci as a No. 2 center and Jake, who we liked, it was just finding that third winger to be a consistent threat.

“So I think putting all your eggs in one basket, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen because we’ve talked about it. It could be tonight. We’re trying to stay away from that and ask a little more of Marshy and Pasta, get a centerman in there that we think is defensively accountable so that they can take care of that.”

So when the Bruins take the ice against the Islanders, Colby Cave will center Marchand and Pastrnak, and Danton Heinen will play left wing with Krejci and DeBrusk to start out.

You could argue against Cassidy’s theory, but you have to credit him and his staff for empowering Marchand and Pastrnak to drive a line. Those two wings combined make more than $13.75 million per season and should be able to make any center – Cave, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, you name it – into more than a replacement-level producer.

But the Bruins have scored just 11 goals in the past six games and may be in need of the type of offensive jolt the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line used to bring in the days when it was a temporary thing and Cassidy was always trying to find balanced scoring.

Cassidy might want to keep the Marchand-Krejci-Pastrnak line for emergencies, but if the Bruins trail late or lack pressure in the attacking zone, the coach may have to break the glass

Related: Bruins notes: Bjork to Providence, Donato’s in & JFK is out