The Skate Podcast: Doug MacLean talks Bruins first line, Atlantic Division race

October 17, 2019 - 3:46 pm

Even though Doug MacLean’s no longer part of Sportsnet’s NHL coverage, the former Columbus Blue Jackets general manager and coach, and Florida Panthers coach is still keeping tabs on the league he was part of for decades.

In his role as an analyst, MacLean was never shy about his admiration for the Bruins, and that continued when he joined co-hosts Ken Laird and Matt Kalman on The Skate Podcast this week. (Subscribe to The Skate Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get podcasts).

In a long-ranging interview that included MacLean’s thoughts on the Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers and, of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs, MacLean explained what’s impressed him most about what the Bruins have accomplished in recent years.

“You know when I talk to young people in that organization and they say that the way they’re treated by the veterans, especially a guy like [Brad> Marchand, who really sort of surprised me, that he’s been unbelievable with the young kids in that dressing room. And [Zdeno> Chara and [Patrice> Bergeron, the way they treat the kids, no wonder there’s such a good chemistry there because of the way they’re blended into the group. Once you make the team, you’re a Bruin. And that’s pretty impressive, that’s not the case with lots of teams.”

MacLean also talked about whether, as a coach, he would consider breaking up the Bruins’ top line of Marchand, Bergeron and David Pastrnak to better balance the lines.

“I think you’ve got to experiment. I think you’ve got to try them and there’s all kinds of opportunities where you can break them up, put them together. It’s happened over time. You’ve got Pittsburgh, Malkin and Crosby go together once in a while, they’re split up once in a while. You’ve got Washington, Ovie and Backstrom who are split up. You’ve got the big Wilson kid that moves into their top six and became a dominant guy for them, a real important player for them.

“So over the course of the year I don’t think there’s anything wrong with breaking it up, splitting it up, moving people around, trying different scenarios. The problem as a coach, when you’ve won with that group, with that group being so good, you always say ‘I gotta come back to it to get me over the top here.’ Because coaching’s different, every shift is a critical shift. It’s weird, we watch a game, we don’t think anything of it. But when you’re in the trenches, when you’re on the bench, every shift is a critical shift for you.

“So I can empathize with him why he loves them together and they’ve been so magical. But I still think it’s important you look at different options as the season goes along, you break them up and you put them together. And not just Pastrnak moving off the line, but Bergeron and Marchand playing with other people too.”