(Photo Credit: Barry Chin/Globe Staff)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis and Linktree

It may have taken almost half of the season to figure out, but it looks like the Boston Bruins finally have some clarity on which line combinations give them the best chance to win. Jim Montgomery has moonlighted as a matchmaker this season, manufacturing different trios seemingly every night to generate the consistent play necessary for night-in and night-out success. Although the process hasn’t always been pretty, it looks like Montgomery may have found a perfect match.

Going into the 2023-24 regular season, the plan was to reunite captain Brad Marchand and veteran Jake DeBrusk and replace legendary center Patrice Bergeron with fan favorite Charlie Coyle. That line was deployed in the team’s first two victories over the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, but by game three, the trio was split up and dispersed among Boston’s top nine. Now they’re back together and playing their best hockey of the season.

How good has the Marchand-Coyle-Debrusk line been? They were reunited during a December 23rd matchup against the Minnesota Wild and had an admittedly slow start, not factoring into the scoring during the anemic 3-2 loss. In the five games since that loss, Boston’s newest trio has exploded for eight goals, 13 assists, and 21 points, leading the team to a 4-1 record as the calendar turned to the New Year.

Over the last five games, DeBrusk and Coyle have three goals and four assists each, and Marchand has two goals and five assists, good enough for seven points each. Now, it’s true that some of their production has come on the powerplay, where the trio may not have been on the ice together, but the point is they have flat-out produced since being reunited.

The offense has been as advertised, but their defensive play has been impressive as well. Of all NHL lines with at least 30 minutes played, Marchand-Coyle-Debrusk rank tenth in expected goals against, third in goals against per 60, and tied first (yes, first) in goals allowed with two (via moneypuck).

One of the other significant impacts of the new line combination is that Boston has rejuvenated three players in various stages of a slump. DeBrusk and Coyle were pointless in the five games before they skated together, and Marchand only had one even-strength point. Fans were ready to run DeBrusk out of town, and Coyle and Marchand were being shifted up and down the lineup nightly. This reunion has effectively reinvigorated three of Boston’s top skaters and created a scoring depth they haven’t seen since early in the season.

There’s one other piece of evidence that proves just how important this line has been to Boston’s overall success: In the 15 games the trio has taken the ice together, Boston’s record is 11-4.

It’s pretty simple: the Bruins are at their best when these three skate together.