The Boston Bruins are coming back from the holiday break comfortably third in the Atlantic. They sit two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs with three games in hand. In the Month of December, they are 8-2-1. In their last 17 games, dating all the way back to the middle of November, the Boston Bruins are 13-3-1. Much of this success is due to the consistent production of the Bruins top line.
Boston Bruins Top Line is one of NHL’s Best
The Boston Bruins were plagued by injuries very early-on in this season. In fact, they have yet put out a fully healthy lineup. There have been constant roster moves and line changes by Bruce Cassidy to simply keep up with the injuries. This left the window wide open for rookies to step up in big roles as well. One negative of these changes and lack of consistency was the possibility of the Boston Bruins top line to play together often. That top line, of course, consists of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak.
That trio has played only 19 games together this season compared to the Bruins total 34 GP. Most of those 19 have been over the past month and a half as well. Case in point to why the Bruins have been 13-3-1 in this stretch. During these 19 games, they have combined for 10 goals for and zero against. They have a Corsi percentage of 62.82% and plus/minus of 100.
Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron are the top three point leaders for the Bruins as well. Currently, Pastrnak has 16 points in his last 15 games. He leads the team with a total of 33 (15 goals, 18 assists). Marchand is second with 15 goals and 17 assists, while Bergeron is third in line with 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists). While the numbers clearly speak a lot for themselves, the importance of this healthy top line for Boston cannot be overstated. It should also be mentioned that due to injuries this has been a pretty small sample in comparison to other top lines across the league.
From Bergeron’s skill on the faceoff dot to the pure possibility of Pastrnak doing something magical at any given moment, this top line is an integral part of Boston’s success night in and night out.
Similarities in the Atlantic Division
It’s not surprising that the top teams in the Atlantic all have a star-powered line leading the way. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, the buzz surrounds Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov. As the best team in the league in terms of points and one of the biggest offensive threats across the league, a large part of this is due to the production of this trio. Kucherov leads the NHL in points and goals with 51 and 24 respectively. Together, this top line has played in 35 games this season. They have 23 goals for and 15 against with a Corsi-for percentage of 54.07%. Many can make the case that this is the top line in the NHL when healthy.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Zach Hyman have led the way. In 24 games together, they have accounted for a Corsi-for percentage of 52.6%, 12 goals for and only four against. Matthews leads the team with 24 points (14 goals, 14 assists).
Other Top Lines across the East
Staying in the East, the New York Islanders are another team finding success this year due to their top line. This trio consists of Anders Lee, John Tavares, and Josh Bailey. This line, luckily for the Islanders sake, has been healthy enough to play together in almost every game this season. In these 35 games, they have 20 goals for and 15 against. They currently pose a Corsi-for percentage of 50.58%. To be a top line in the NHL, remaining healthy and being able to play night in and night out is a large part of it. This trio has done that and for that reason, the Islanders are currently in a playoff position in the highly competitive Metropolitan Division.
The Philadelphia Flyers have had a weird first half of the year to say the least. After a double-digit losing streak in the first month or so, to being 7-2-1 in their last 10, the Flyers are the definition of an up and down season. They do not sit near a playoff spot right now, but by no means are at the bottom of the East. For them, the little success they have had is due in part to their top line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier. This trio has recorded 23 goals for and 11 against in 36 games together. Again, that is almost the whole season thus far, something that Boston is missing. But, like the Bruins, all three of these players lead the team in points as well. Voracek leads the team with 44 points, 36 of which are league-leading assists.
Top Lines Out West
Out West, it is worthy to take a look at the St. Louis Blues and a reason for why they are first in their division and third in the West. Their top line this season consists of Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, and Vladimir Tarasenko. In 29 games, they have scored 17 goals while only allowing four and hold a Corsi-for percentage of 59.07%. That 17, is tied for fourth-most goals for a line combination this season and it is the most by a combination with less than 31 games together.
The Winnipeg Jets are another team finding success this year due to a star-powered top line. Perhaps most comparable to the Boston Bruins in terms of games played, this line consists of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Patrick Maroon. This trio has only played 18 games together thus far. In those, they have recorded 12 goals for, eight against and a Corsi-for percentage of 56.42%. The Jets sit two points behind St. Louis with a game in hand in the Central Division.
While nothing should be taken away from the individual talent across the league, some lines seem to click more than others. When pairings and trios are on the same page night in and night out, it usually leads to a winning team. This year, it seems some of the top lines are coming from the Lightning, Islanders, Blues, and Bruins. All three of which seem to be finding some success this season and all currently sitting in playoff positions. For the Boston Bruins specifically, a healthy top line means more games played together, more points and most likely more wins for the team.
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