By: Mike Sullivan | Follow me on Twitter: @_MikeSullivan
The lack of offensive depth has been a primary point of criticism for the Boston Bruins in past seasons. In years past, especially last season without David Krejci in the lineup, the Bruins relied heavily on the “Perfection Line” of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron to produce consistent offense for the team.
The problem with having your three best offensive forwards on a line together is that it leaves the other three lines vulnerable to a period of lackluster offensive production. However, with the re-emergence of David Krejci, the addition of Pavel Zacha, and offensive contributions from players like AJ Greer, Nick Foligno, and Jake DeBrusk, the Bruins finally seem to have at least three lines of reliable offensive pressure.
In the preseason, AJ Greer blew away Bruins fans in his stint with Boston. Fans instantly fell in love with not only his style of play but his attitude. Greer made the opening night roster to many fans’ delight; since then, he’s impressed. Utilizing his third-line role, Greer has managed to score three goals, including a big one in last night’s game against Ottawa, even if that game didn’t end as we had hoped. Greer has also assisted on two goals bringing his total to five points in four games as a bottom-six forward hovering around ten minutes and thirty seconds of time on ice.
Pavel Zacha brings flexibility to the lineup. He seems comfortable playing on any line while he brings size, speed, and creativity to the group. He especially seems comfortable playing alongside David Krejci and David Pastrnak to complete the chemistry-fueled “Czech Line.” Zacha has found the scoresheet three times with one goal and two assists in four games. In addition, his ability to move up and down the second and third lines strengthens the flexibility of this lineup.
Infusing David Krejci back into this lineup gives it the boost it needs. There were whispers of doubt from some of the bruins faithful that they were concerned about David Krejci’s ability to keep up with the rest of the NHL after a year in Europe. That’s not the case. Playing around seventeen minutes a night, Krejci has managed five points in four games, netting two goals and tallying three assists. He’s the driving force behind that second line, and the chemistry between Pastrnak and himself is unmatched on this roster.
It seems as though Jake DeBrusk is finally playing with a full level of confidence. Coming into the season, he knew he would have to put it all together and be a consistently productive top-six forward in this system. Playing alongside Bergeron on the first line, DeBrusk has impressed early on. Scoring five points in three games, DeBrusk has been as engaged as ever. You can see it in his body language. He’s confident, free, and producing. He seems happy, and you love to see it. If he keeps this production up, he will smash through his previous season high in points. That total was 43 in his rookie season.
To everyone’s surprise, Nick Foligno has been proving the doubters wrong with his start to the season. When he was placed on waivers, many Bruins fans rejoiced. But, boy, is he making them bite their tongue now. Nick Foligno has been the most noticeable player on the fourth line to begin the year. He’s engaged, making smart plays in the defensive and offensive end, and seems to be meshing well with Jakub Lauko. Foligno has potted two goals and grabbed one assist for three points in four games, already matching his goal total for all last season. He will be a crucial part of this team if he continues to play this strong.
It’d be cruel of me not to talk about defensemen contributing to the offense. This is absolutely a credit to Jim Montgomery’s philosophy of allowing the Boston defensemen to play with more freedom and get creative in the offensive end. No other defensemen have benefited more from that freedom so far than Connor Clifton. The five-foot-eleven defenseman has registered four points in four games and has been another player who’s made doubters shut their mouths so far this season.
This is all done without three key players in Marchand, McAvoy, and Grzelcyck. However, once this team is fully healthy, the depth will be able to compete with the top-tier teams in the league.