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First Round

Bruins keeping top line together for Game 4 against Maple Leafs

Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak have combined for six points in first three games of playoff series

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- The Boston Bruins are keeping their top line together for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, NESN).

While coach Bruce Cassidy alluded to the possibility of breaking up the line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak after the team's 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Game 3, they were all back together at practice at Coca Cola Coliseum on Tuesday. 

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Maple Leafs series coverage]

 

That doesn't mean they'll stay like that for the rest of the best-of-7 series which Toronto leads 2-1. But for now, the Bruins are sticking with it. 

"It could change quickly," Cassidy said. "I think they recognize where they've left offense on the table. It hasn't been much of a line-rush offensive series, maybe since the first game. 

"They've done a good job limiting certainly [Mitchell] Marner and [John] Tavares, [who] are good offensive players. So, it's been a bit of a battle that way of two good offensive lines playing good defensively but can't seem to get it going offensively."

Assistant coach Jay Pandolfo sat down with the three players on Tuesday, something that isn't entirely unusual. It's something they do every couple of weeks, just to check in, to go over details, to reset. 

However, it seemed like a meeting was needed on Tuesday, after a disappointing start to the first-round series, and a particularly disappointing performance in Game 3 on Monday where each player failed to record a point and did not generate many scoring chances.

Video: First Round, Gm3: Bruins @ Maple Leafs

"They like to go over some stuff, they want to get better," Cassidy said. "They're real coachable. I think Bergy has to reel his wingers in and get them back on the same page because things will start to go well - or the odd time, not well, which is probably yesterday. 

"They just want to get them back on the same page. … This isn't some five-alarm fire meeting with them. It's a simple revisiting basics. What can we do against Toronto that's playing them hard to hopefully help them create a little offense and off they go."

They're hoping that with a little tweaking, they'll get back to being themselves - and at the same time, get the Bruins going, before it's too late.

The Bergeron line has combined for six points (three goals, three assists) in the first three games of the series, with two of those points coming at even strength. That's not enough for the Bruins to be successful.

"They're taking time and space away really well right now and doing a lot of keeping us to the outside," Bergeron said. "We've got to find ways to just get to the inside a little bit more, put pucks on net and get some rebounds and whatnot. I think when you're kept to the outside and you're not able to generate, sometimes you force plays and that's what happens."

They looked off even on the power play, a place where the top line usually shines. It was something that Cassidy was hoping they would correct, which then might get them going at 5-on-5, where they have been stymied by Marner, Tavares and Zach Hyman. 

"I think that's where the power play can give them some juice," Cassidy said. "We didn't have it last night on the power play. That's something where that group is usually very good. They were out of sync last night, forcing some plays. We have to get them back on track for tomorrow."

The coach has some ideas.

"They need to make more plays from below the goal line, protect pucks," Cassidy said. "Have more O-zone time. They're so good reading off one another when it's a shot, rebound, recovery, separate, now make a play. 

"I think they need to be a little more of that mentality where it's second opportunities, second chance O-zone play that breaks their defense down. And if they can do that, I think you'll see them getting more opportunities. Now whether they go in or not is a whole other issue, but they'll at least be getting their opportunities. When you get your opportunities as an offensive player you tend to get a lot more excited."

He's showing the faith in a line that has - in large part - gotten the Bruins to this point. Even though he has broken up the line before - usually moving Pastrnak down to the right wing on the David Krejci line, and Danton Heinen up to the top line - he's not ready to do it yet in this series.

Bergeron said the faith is appreciated. He has confidence the line can straighten itself out. 

They believe in themselves.

"Right now, I think we've found ways pretty much all year," Bergeron said. "It comes down to that. You'll face adversity and it's just the way it is. That's what hockey is all about. You have to thrive on it. It's one of those things where it's one game and you try to make the adjustments that are necessary - I'm talking about as a team. That's what we did today and [now we] move forward."

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