Why pairing David Krejci and David Pastrnak is right move for Bruins


When the Bruins clinched home ice in the first round — something about which I really wasn't concerned given that they were going to beat the Maple Leafs either way — Tom Giles asked on Boston Sports Tonight what the Bruins should do in the final two games. With nothing to play for on paper, what should they aim to physically achieve? 

Other than line up Tuukka Rask's schedule however they'd like and continue to get reps for the players that have recently returned to the lineup, my answer was basically the same thing I and many others have said since David Pastrnak came back from his thumb injury: Put No. 88 on the second line. 

Tuesday night's blowout win over the Blue Jackets hardly screamed for a shakeup with the lines, but once Danton Heinen is back, the play should be to put Heinen with Bergeron and Marchand, then team Pastrnak with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. It would make for a both balanced and elite top six. 

The Bruins might have that either way given the seasons they've gotten from Krejci (70 points) and DeBrusk (27 goals). That pair might even be gaining a bit of the put-anyone-with-them-and-they'll-be-good status that Bergeron and Marchand have had for years, as 23-year-old Karson Kuhlman dominated with the pair against Columbus. 

Maybe Bruce Cassidy will keep Kuhlman there and take the experiment into the playoffs, a point that Matt Kalman argued well following the Columbus game.

But think about it: On a top line you can have a 100-point guy skating alongside a four-time Selke winner with whom he happens to share telepathy given their years playing together. On the next, you have a great playmaking center flanked by wingers who pushed for 40 goals (Pastrnak) and 30 goals (DeBrusk).

Krejci's played in every game this season. Maybe the Bruins will rest him Thursday or Saturday. DeBrusk and Pastrnak have missed enough time this season to not need the break.

We saw how the three performed when Bruce Cassidy played them together for the second half of the Rangers game last week. It involved Krejci assisting goals by both wingers. Bruins fans should want to see more of it going into the playoffs. 

It would be a top-six that should outperform Toronto's and even go toe-to-toe with Tampa's. While the Tampa comparison might sound outrageous, consider that Bergeron and Pastrnak would have been right up there in point totals had they not missed legitimate time due to injury.

Bergeron, currently 23rd in the league in points with 79 in 64 games, would have also been a 100-point guy (101, to be exact) had he played an 82-game season at that pace. Pastrnak (78 points in 64 games), would be on track for exactly 100 points. Spread out correctly, that's a lot of time with elite players on the ice. 

What burned the Bruins last postseason was their lack of depth. Though a deeper team during the regular season, their third line wasn't good enough in the playoffs between Riley Nash not being right and David Backes not being good.

Once Tampa negated Bergeron with Brayden Point, it was over. Depth wasn't going to bail out Boston. 

Maybe that's a different story now. The Chris Wagner-Charlie Coyle-Marcus Johansson trio was good Tuesday, netting Johansson his first tally as a Bruin. That's certainly a better trio on paper than a returning-from-injury Nash with an in-and-out-of-the-lineup Heinen and a slow Backes. 

Cassidy should keep those three together for the next two games as Johansson continues to get comfortable. It looks like he has a third line.

If he tweaks the first two lines, he'll go from having the best line in hockey to a top six that should smother opponents. 

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