Glancing back at the Boston Bruins’ lone previous match-up with tonight’s opponent, the Atlanta Thrashers, the night was made monumental by Milan Lucic’s hat trick in a 5-4 win.
But that was also the night, with Lucic’s output obviously making a strong argument to head coach Claude Julien, that the Bruins’ top line of Lucic and right winger Phil Kessel flanking center Marc Savard became a permanent triumvirate — one that hasn’t been split since that Oct. 25 night.
The combination had been together for a couple games before the Thrashers landed in Boston. But Lucic started that evening at the Garden on a line with center David Krejci and winger Blake Wheeler. A shuffle soon put Lucic in the position he’s been ever since. And since that three-goal night, he’s put 7-8-15 totals and a plus-11 rating. In fact, he hasn’t had a minus night since joining Savard and Kessel.
Between them, Savard and Kessel have had just one minus-1 evening each since they became permanent parts of a line with Lucic. And, of course, the offensive numbers have been hard to top as well. Savard has produced 3-20-23 and Kessel 11-7-18. A pretty formidable top line if there ever was one, and their ability to thrive at both ends has made Julien’s life easier when it comes to matching up against the other teams’ top trios.