Throughout the postseason the Boston Bruins have seemingly had a different hero every night. Unlike last season, they have not had to rely on their top line for offense. Resiliency has been a key trait of this team as they suffered seemingly never-ending injuries during the regular season. In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals the Bruins offensive weapons were on full display as eight different players had at least a point. Although the series is far from over the Bruins showed why their depth has been so important.
On Monday night, the Bruins’ first line struggled in their biggest game so far this season. The Bruins top trio were on the ice for both of the Blues goals and did little with their power play opportunities. Their struggles, however, proved not to be costly as the Bruins fourth line stepped up. Normally known for their physicality, the Bruins energy line factored into three of Boston’s four goals. Everyone on the fourth line had a point as Sean Kuraly led the way with a goal and an assist.
While the Bruins’ fourth line excelled, Boston also got big contributions from the third line. Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, and Marcus Johansson did not factor into the stat sheet but were very good with their puck possession. All three finished with more even strength time than second-line wingers Jake DeBrusk and David Backes. Their long shifts in the offensive zone wore down the Blues. Performances like that allowed the Bruins to dominate on a night when their best line hardly made an impact.
In Game 2 they followed the same formula as the bottom lines factored into both of the Bruins goals. They were aggressive in the offensive zone and gave the B’s the lead each time St. Louis tied it. The Bruins fourth line also shut down the Ryan O’Reilly line which is one of the Blues’ most dangerous. Although, the Bruins didn’t emerge victorious, their bottom lines showed that they could handle the Blues best.
Heading into Game 3, the Bruins now find themselves at a disadvantage after losing in heartbreaking fashion. The series will shift to St. Louis for the next two games with momentum in the Blues favor. In order for the Bruins to gain the advantage they will need their top two lines to improve. So far this series they have factored into one goal and were held scoreless in Game 2.
The Bruins can, however, take a silver lining from these first two games. Even with their best offensive players struggling the rest of their forwards have held their own. It is their depth that has carried this team so far, and it will again be counted on Saturday night. The key now is getting their top players to perform to their capibilities.