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Charlie Coyle Could Be Key to the Bruins’ Success

( Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images )

By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn

Coming into the season, there was a lot of conversation about what the ambitions would be for the Boston Bruins. By now, we all know that the sky is the limit for this group. Through 48 games, the Bruins have amassed 38 wins and 80 points. Sitting in first place not just in the Atlantic division, not just in the Eastern Conference, but in the entire NHL, the Bruins are not only Stanley Cup contenders but favorites.

It’s easy to look at the top of the lineup when evaluating the Bruins’ chances. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, and Hampus Lindholm are among the big names that will be responsible for much of the success or failure that this team will find in the spring. However, as I’ve mentioned before, the teams that achieve the ultimate success in the NHL have the depth that contributes in big ways to their deep playoff runs.

The Bruins have revamped their depth as a team this year, with signings in free agency and by getting huge improvements from players already on the roster. Pavel Zacha signed with the team last summer and has already impressed the Bruins’ management enough to earn a contract extension.

Trent Frederic and Connor Clifton have both stepped their game up this season, along with veteran Nick Foligno to strengthen the Bruins’ bottom two forward and third defensive lines. If this team is going to make a deep playoff run, though, Charlie Coyle is going to have to have a big playoff performance.

In the 2019 playoff run, by far the Bruins’ most successful since his arrival, Coyle scored nine goals and provided seven assists as the third-line center, providing crucial depth scoring for the team that would eventually win the Prince of Wales trophy. Among those nine goals was an overtime-winning goal in the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets were coming off a first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning, so winning game one was huge for the Bruins in that series.

As we’ve seen in recent years, if the Bruins do not get contributions from all four lines, teams are able to lock down the top two lines and stifle the Bruins’ overall offense. At that point, lines get shuffled, and the Bruins enter panic mode. That’s how things have gone for the last three seasons, as the Bruins haven’t gotten back to the conference finals.

So far this season, Coyle hasn’t been fantastic. He’s been solid but hasn’t been the Coyle we saw in the 2019 playoffs. Fans shouldn’t panic, though. Before the playoffs in 2019, Coyle had only scored six points in 21 games for Boston after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild. As much as the Bruins are dominating the league right now, we all know the playoffs are a different story. The third line, whether it is filled out with Foligno, Frederic, Zacha, or Taylor Hall, will need to step their game up to another level once the regular season ends.

Even if they don’t contribute in terms of points, if the third line can be trusted to play against other teams’ top players and shut them down, it will open up opportunities for the Bruins’ top line to play more offensively. While having Bergeron as the team’s number-one center is a blessing in the playoffs, it also can hold the team back because the first line sometimes needs to act as a shutdown line instead of a scoring line. If the third line can take that pressure off them, it will allow the team as a whole to play better and be more dangerous offensively.

1 Comment

  1. Laura

    Great article! Loved your insights!

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