“As **insert great player here** goes, so goes **insert team here**” tends to be an overdone characterization of many a sports organizations, but it’s tough to find another way to sum up what we’ve seen so far from the 2018-19 Boston Bruins.
Simply put, if the Patrice Bergeron line is held in check, the Black and Gold are a rudderless dinghy in the turbulent swell that is a hyper-competitive Atlantic Division.
Secondary scoring has been an issue with this club as of late — with the lack of contributions up and down the lineup playing a key role in Boston’s swift, five-game exit in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Lightning.
But the scoring responsibilities thrust upon on Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak night in and night out is getting absurd at this point — even if the trio remains one of the most potent lines in the entire NHL.
Saturday’s frustrating loss to Nashville was just the latest example in which the B’s — boosted by another shining showing from goalie Jaroslav Halak — were unable to land much of a punch, or even a jab for that matter, when both their top line and power play were stymied.
Over the past five games, only one Bruins skater not named Bergeron, Pastrnak or Marchand has lit the lamp during five-on-five play — with Zdeno Chara blasting one home from the point back on Oct. 25 against the Flyers.
Since then? Nada. Going into Monday’s home tilt with the Stars, that scoring drought at 5v5 for everyone except that top line will have lasted 217:00 of regulation. Yuck.
On a rare night in which the Bergeron line was outshot in 5v5, 6-4, the rest of Boston’s lineup didn’t do much to pick up the slack. David Krejci’s line was also outshot on the night, with Jake DeBrusk out on the ice for just two shots for the B’s and seven shots for Nashville over 8:46 of 5v5 TOI.
The Sean Kuraly line actually posted a Corsi For Percentage of over 50.00 on the night in what was a solid outing from the bottom six — until we get to the third period, in which the B’s were outshot, 11-3, in the 8:31 of TOI where both David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom were out on the ice together.
What was a potent bottom-six last year in Backes, Riley Nash and Danton Heinen has been a shell of itself this season, with Backes still held to zero points through eight games, while Anders Bjork — seemingly mismatched on a heavier line — is still looking to get going after tallying one goal through 11 tilts.
So, barring a trade, what does this Bruins club need to do to get the rest of its lineup clicking?