BOSTON — The Bruins’ best line for much of the season has been that of Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. That trio was broken up recently, thanks in large part to injury, and the team’s overall play unsurprisingly slid.
The band was back together Wednesday night with Marchand and Bergeron back from injury, and while the B’s dropped a shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, there was plenty to be happy with from the Bergeron line.
It’s fairly obvious that the success starts with Bergeron. One of the best two-way players in the world, just reinserting the alternate captain into the lineup goes a long way in stabilizing everyone else.
Much of that starts with puck possession, so it naturally helps to have one of the best faceoff men in the game back in there. Boston’s league-leading faceoff efforts started to slide in Bergeron’s absence, but he was back to dominating draws Wednesday night. Bergeron won 13 of the 17 faceoffs he took, leading the way for a Bruins team that won 64 percent (36 of 56) the faceoffs Wednesday.
The Bergeron line possessed the puck in the Buffalo zone for much of their time on the ice. While it didn’t produce any goals, it wasn’t for lack of effort. Bergeron put a game-high six shots on goal, while Marchand and Seguin each had four shots, combining for 14 of the club’s 43 shots on goal.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who is no slouch himself, was fantastic, turning away 41 of those shots and stopping Seguin, Bergeron and Seguin during the shootout. However, that wasn’t enough to deter Bruins coach Claude Julien from being pleased with his best line.
“You know, it’s unfortunate they didn’t get rewarded with anything tonight, but they had some great opportunities,” Julien said. “And you’ve got to give their goaltender credit; he played extremely well for them tonight and allowed them to stay in that 2-1 game for a long time. I think had there been another goaltender it could have been a totally different story tonight.”
It’s something the Bruins desperately need right now, too. They’re an uneven team, and as Julien continues to work to find the right line combinations, it sure looks like the only constant is going to be the Bergeron-Seguin-Marchand combination.
“We’ve played together for a while now and just because different guys have been out or lines have been shaken up, it doesn’t change the fact that we know where each other are and how we play,” Marchand said after Wednesday’s game. “When we’re moving our feet we can create some opportunities.”
With the team scuffling toward the finish line and the playoffs just around the corner, the B’s will take all of the opportunities they can get right now, and they’ll likely continue to get them from this line, undeniably their top line.