BOSTON -- Through four games they were point-less.
Then two of them showed signs of life and picked up an assist apiece in Boston's Game 5 loss to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last Saturday.
Heading into Game 6 of the series Sunday, with the Bruins facing elimination, coach Claude Julien united Tyler Seguin, David Krejci and Milan Lucic as an uncharacteristic first line -- at least by their performances against the Caps, not career track records.
They had shown signs of life in the third period of Boston's Game 5 loss the day before. Things got even better in Game 6, with the trio that had combined for two points prior suddenly erupting for two goals (one on the power play) and six points. Seguin's goal was the difference in a 4-3 overtime win.
That's the type of production that could carry a team to a Game 7 victory, which is what the Bruins will try to achieve Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
"Well, we obviously need them for long-term success," Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said after his team's morning skate. "We have enough secondary scoring and depth to make it through certain games without them putting the puck in the net. But selfishly, you want to see the stars of your team really produce because it does push them maybe over the edge of just getting the goals going and getting the confidence going. And I think everybody, especially with that goal that [Seguin] scored in overtime, it wasn't just a simple shot. It was a nice little head fake, good patience. It was a real skilled goal. And so you know when those guys get that type, it gives them the boost for sure. So it's very nice for us to see, obviously."
BRUINS VS. CAPITALS
Seguin breaks through in Game 6Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer
There was a lot of pressure on Tyler Seguin through the first five games of the 2012 playoffs, and he shed it with the OT gamewinner on Sunday. READ MORE ›
Lucic and Krejci have played as a pair almost all season. Nathan Horton's concussion problems forced the Bruins to use a rotation of several right wingers on that line in a search for the hot hand. Seguin skated his share of time with those two players in the regular season, but that trio often allowed as many goals as it scored.
With the season on the line Sunday, Julien had a feeling reuniting that trio would pay off.
"I think putting them back together, you could see Tyler's game coming around, and when it comes around you give him that opportunity to take it to the next level," Julien said. "Putting him up on that line again just creates that excitement again -- that's where he wants to be. Same thing with [Lucic], it's just a matter of him understanding his game. And his game's not just about running guys through the boards, it's about playing the big role, being a big strong player, strong on the puck and still being able to make plays like he did last night on the winning goal. So this is what you need from guys like that, and that coming around has just given us that option.
"Although they are still only one-goal wins, now you're not relying just on the third and fourth lines, but also on the first two. And now we're talking about scoring that's spread out, and now other teams have to decide which guys, or which lines, they want to shut down."
At home and on the road, the Capitals have managed to get the matchups they want through six games. Defensemen Karl Alzner and John Carlson have gone head to head with Krejci and Lucic a ton, and often gotten the better of the Bruins forwards. The pair of Roman Hamrlik and Mike Green has also done its part to contain Boston's best scorers.
In Game 6, Lucic and his mates figured out a way to gain an edge.
"I think when we got the puck, our focus was just going ahead with it," Lucic said. "We weren't looking on making that extra pass, we were just worrying about moving it ahead and creating speed that way. It worked for us last game, so we've got to want to do it again."
Often Game 7s are decided by unsung heroes. The Bruins would love it, however, if their stars could make sure it's not necessary to get life from an unexpected source.
"I think it's a good confidence booster for them, especially going into Washington and playing the way they did," Bruins forward Daniel Paille said. "I think it brings them a lot of confidence to come in here and repeat that same type of game. And with them rolling, you know, we have a good spark."