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.