Bruins’ top-6 shuffle paid off in offensive barrage against Penguins

(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

After taking his veterans to task thrice in the span of three weeks by way of pointed postgame remarks, Bruce Cassidy opted for one of the final maneuvers remaining in the good ol' NHL bench boss bag of tricks (beyond outright benchings) — putting his lines in a blender.

While the tried-and-true triumvirate of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have staked their claim as one of the most feared forward trios in the league for years now, a fresh coat of paint was needed for a sputtering B's forward corps, with Pastrnak especially in line for a change of scenery after tallying just one even-strength goal in his previous 10 games entering Saturday's matinee matchup against the Penguins.

As such, after tinkering with his depth chart during Friday's warm-up practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Cassidy rolled out an augmented grouping of skaters for the B's rematch against Pittsburgh — with Pastrnak slotted down to the second line next to another playmaking pivot in David Krejci.

Even though Pastrnak's top-line replacement in Craig Smith fit the mold of a player that typically piles on points alongside Bergeron and Marchand (a shot-first winger with a nose for the net and strong in board battles), a quick fix was not guaranteed by demoting Pastrnak. Krejci and Pastrnak might share the same mother tongue, but the Czech-mates' advanced level of communication did little to yield positive results in games leading up to Saturday — with Boston outscored, 2-0, in the 56:25 of 5v5 ice time Krejci and Pastrnak had shared.

It might have been a gamble for Cassidy to split up what has regularly been his one proven forward line all season in hope of a spark — but the odds certainly fell in the coach's favor on Saturday, as a revamped top-six unit more than pulled its weight in a barfight against the Penguins.