Patrice Bergeron, Bruins top line lethal in win over Rangers

Matt Kalman
October 27, 2019 - 10:35 pm

It’s not enough anymore for the Bruins’ top line of Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to rack up points and obliterate opposing teams on the scoreboard.

As of Sunday, they also have to eliminate at least one of their opponents’ top players from the lineup.

That streak is at one game, because it was Patrice Bergeron’s reverse hit while protecting the puck along the wall that knocked the New York Rangers’ best all-around forward Mike Zibanejad from the game.

And unfortunately for the Rangers, that was only the beginning of the damage Bergeron did in a 7-4 win at Madison Square Garden.

Bergeron recorded his fifth career NHL hat trick and he and his linemates combined for 13 points in the Bruins’ first laugher of the season (the Rangers scored two garbage-time goals in the final two minutes before Bergeron clinched the win with an empty-net goal). This was just the third time in 11 games the Bruins won by as many as three goals.

By far the Rangers were the least-prepared opponent to handle the Bergeron line’s torture that Boston has faced this season. The rebuilding Rangers entered the game allowing 3.38 goals per game (23rd in the NHL) and were without first-line wing Jesper Fast before they even lost Zibanejad during the action.

Through the Rangers’ first nine games, this was the first game they’ve been tested by one of the NHL’s top-heavy super lines (think Tampa Bay, Colorado, etc.). But as much as the Bergeron line brought its skill to New York, it also brought its nearly ever-present grit.

Bergeron’s second goal was the product of Marchand retrieving a Pastrnak dump-in and making a simple pass to the middle. His first goal came on a rebound after a Pastrnak net drive that included contact with Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist after a trip by defenseman Libor Hajek.

That’s the thing about Bergeron’s line. When it’s at its best it doesn’t just dazzle and deflate opponents with skill, it protects the defensive zone with ferocity and works harder than maybe any other trio in the league. It’s often said about Sidney Crosby that he’s a first-liner with a fourth-liner’s mentality, a scorer with a checker’s mentality. That description now suits Bergeron’s line to a tee, with Pastrnak maturing into a two-way force, even though his defensive game will never catch his offensive game because of how his productivity is growing beyond reach.

The Bruins needed others to pick up the grit slack with both Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom out of the lineup. They knew they weren’t going to get it from Peter Cehlarik, who was called up from Providence of the AHL to fill in.

Bergeron’s line got some offensive help from the Bruins’ emerging secondary scorers. Charlie Coyle scored his first goal of the season, Zdeno Chara scored his second and Brandon Carlo even chipped in with a couple assists.

So Bergeron’s line didn’t have to carry the bulk of the offensive load itself, but it did. And it did the little things and did some intimidating of the Rangers. Sure, the opponent wasn’t close to anything the Bruins will see the next spring (the Rangers don’t look like they’ll get a sniff of the postseason), but this was a game coach Bruce Cassidy should keep on hand to show Bergeron’s line when they inevitably go through a playoff slump. Keeping things simple and playing with a grind-it-out mentality always brings out the best in Bergeron’s line.

The Bruins return home to host San Jose on Tuesday. The Sharks’ goaltenders should be wary of facing Bergeron’s line, and some of their best skill players should also watch out for Bergeron’s lethal physicality. Just kidding, of course.

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