Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

How do the Bruins keep scoring and winning without Patrice Bergeron?

Scott McLaughlin
March 10, 2018 - 10:33 pm

The Bruins just completed a 6-0-0 homestand and they averaged five goals per game while doing it. They didn’t have Patrice Bergeron for any of those six games, they didn’t have Charlie McAvoy for the last four, and they didn’t have David Backes for the last two.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate just how crazy that is.

How the Bruins have done it -- with the offense leading the way -- is perhaps the most surprising part of this. The top line obviously should’ve taken the biggest hit with Bergeron out. Instead, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Riley Nash (who’s moved up from his usual third-line center spot) have combined for 10 goals and 18 assists in these six games, led by Marchand’s ridiculous five goals (including three game-winners) and six assists.

We assumed the new-look second line of David Krejci between Jake DeBrusk and Rick Nash would need to jell quickly and pick up some of the slack. There hasn’t been much slack to pick up, but this trio has meshed well and contributed. They’ve also combined for 10 goals over these six games, led by Krejci’s five. DeBrusk suddenly looks like a setup wizard with six assists in this stretch, including three on Saturday.

With Riley Nash moving up to the top line and then Backes getting suspended, there would have to be question marks further down the lineup, right? Well, there were, but the Bruins have found answers. Brian Gionta is apparently the greatest midseason signing in history (slight exaggeration… I think), as he has two goals and four assists in five games since joining the team. 

Tommy Wingels, another deadline acquisition, had a two-point game in his Bruins debut to open the homestand. The fourth line of Tim Schaller, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari got in on the offensive frenzy Saturday, as Kuraly and Acciari combined on a shorthanded goal to open the scoring and Kuraly capped off the 7-4 win with an empty-netter.

There have also been contributions from the blue line, most notably from Torey Krug, who had three goals and seven assists on the homestand, putting him behind only Marchand in points during the six-game winning streak. (Side note: Krug is having arguably the best season of his career and hopefully people realize that.) Nick Holden -- yeah, another new guy -- has four assists in four games since coming aboard while averaging a little more than 19 minutes per game. Zdeno Chara has also contributed five assists.

Some of this offensive explosion can be chalked up to good fortune, as the Bruins shot 13.4 percent on this homestand, a notable-but-not-insane jump from their 10.2 percent season mark. But the B’s have also been creating more chances, as they’ve averaged 37.3 shots on goal per game over the last six games, compared to 32.8 per game on the season.

They’ve done more damage on the power play, too, converting on 10 of 26 opportunities on the homestand. Read more about the success of the power play, particularly the new-look second unit, here.

It is worth noting that three of these six games were against definite non-playoff teams (Montreal, Detroit and Chicago) and another was against a probable non-playoff team (Carolina). And while the Flyers are a playoff team, they’ve been struggling over the last week and a half. The 8-4 win over the Penguins was impressive no matter how you slice it, though -- that’s a team just about everyone would consider one of the top five or six Cup contenders this year. Also, six wins in a row is six wins in a row, and that’s pretty impressive regardless of opponents.

There are a lot of positives to take away from this winning streak, which the Bruins will now try to keep going as they embark on a four-game road trip. All their new additions have made positive contributions, their new second line is looking as good as they’d hoped, and their depth guys have gotten some valuable playing time.

And perhaps most importantly, the Bruins have managed to keep pace with the scorching-hot Tampa Bay Lightning and remain in contention for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re still six points back, but they also still have three games in hand. Oh, and those two still have three head-to-head meetings over the next month, the first of which is next Saturday in Tampa.

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