BOSTON – There was no way the Bruins were going to be able to march deep in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs with the line of Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and the left winger of the week handling all the duties of a top line.
With that trio thriving more than any other in black and gold when shutting down opposing top lines, another triumvirate had to emerge to provide some more offensive punch.
In the first round against Buffalo, Vladimir Sobotka teamed with Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler as Boston’s best offensive threat for a while. And the baton then passed to David Krejci, Miro Satan and Marco Sturm, until the series-clinching Game 6 win against the Sabres. From that night and all the way through tonight’s dramatic 3-2 win over Philadelphia in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series, Krejci, Satan and Milan Lucic have packed a wallop.
By combining for four points in the victory that put Boston up 2-0 in the series heading to Philly for Game 3 and Game 4, it’s time to declare Krejci’s cadre as Boston’s No. 1 line.
In no way does this declaration disparage the Bergeron line’s offensive abilities. But with a slumping, and now injured Sturm, and a misfiring Daniel Paille riding the left side, that group can’t put as much fear into opponents as the Krejci group.
And you can’t overlook the offensive responsibility Krejci and his linemates assume every night as well. At this point of the season, every team that’s alive has two solid scoring lines, and Krejci’s trio has to stack up against the one Bergeron’s doesn’t chase. And in true No. 1 line fashion, they take care of business with Krejci winning huge draws, and Satan and Lucic backchecking with authority.
After going point-less in his first five games this postseason, Lucic broke out for three assists in his first two games with Krejci and Satan. Tonight he capped his ascension to top-line left wing status with the game-winning goal with just 2:57 remaining in the third period.
“Krech is a guy who when he has the puck on his stick, he makes things happen,” said Lucic about fitting in with Krejci and Satan, who forged some chemistry prior to this series. “But also, he likes to keep it simple. That’s where I think I fit on that line. They’re both very skilled guys but they also like to keep things simple and skate. They keep me moving and I’ve been using them real well so I feel like these last three games since I’ve been with them have been my best three games of the playoffs so far.”
No less an authority on top lines than Bruins star center Marc Savard, who had he not missed six weeks with a concussion would be the top pivot on Boston’s depth chart, sees how tough it is to game plan against the Bruins now that two lines, and sometimes three or four are going strong. That’s a far cry from the regular season, when Boston was last in the league in offense.
“We tried to say that all year: guys are having some tough years, that we have a lot of scorers in here. But now we’re proving it and every guy is chipping in,” said Savard.
Lucic, Krejci and Satan are chipping in a little more than the others, and that’s huge. With Bergeron, Paille, and now even Recchi key components in Boston’s penalty kill, that line logs tons of ice time before being asked to shutdown would-be snipers at even strength. At this point, Krejci plays both special teams but Satan is just on the power play and Lucic is only a part-timer on the man-advantage. That leaves them plenty of gas in the tank to fire away in the attack zone.
There’s a new No. 1 line in Boston, and it’s also known as “Krejci’s Cadre.”