Haggerty: Marchand, Seguin, Bergeron carrying Bruins

Haggerty: Marchand, Seguin, Bergeron carrying Bruins
March 8, 2013, 10:30 am
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It’s no exaggeration to write, say or exclaim that the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand is carrying the Bruins two months into the season.

It’s no surprise given how well they played last year with Seguin stepping into Mark Recchi’s spot, and giving the line a speed upgrade that plays in today’s NHL.

But it’s getting to the point where they’re being counted on to be dominant on a nightly basis, and they’re never disappointing.

The Bergeron line accounted for three of Boston’s four goals in their 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at TD Garden, and has 14 goals and 37 points in their last nine games. While the David Krejci line has cooled off and production from the bottom six forwards has been just north of nonexistent this season, Bergeron, Seguin and Marchand have picked up all that slack for a Black and Gold that’s lost only three regulation games out of their first 21 contests.

“We’ve got three good players on that line. As I said this morning Brad Marchand is a really good player in this league. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he instigates a lot of stuff,” said Claude Julien. “Bergeron has already been recognized for his two-way work. Tyler is a great player. We’ve got some great players there.

“When you’ve got a guy like Bergeron doing such a great job down in your own end, the puck gets out quicker. Then when you’ve got those guys [Marchand and Seguin] on each side of you, there’s a pretty good attack going on. That’s a good line for us. I think all three of them deserve a lot of credit.”

So what else is making this trio so unstoppable against the rest of the Eastern Conference?

Well, it certainly helps when Seguin is back on top of his offensive game and attacking the net with confidence and dogged determination. That’s what was happening against the Leafs on Thursday night after it was stressed by Bruins coach Claude Julien in video sessions over the last few days.

“When we looked at the video [on Thursday morning] that was one of the big things we took away from the last couple of games. We weren’t driving the net enough,” said Seguin. “We really started to put pucks on net and as the game progressed we were doing that more and more.

“I felt like the last few games I had been taking those shots from outside the defense. [Thursday night] I was cutting in and taking them right toward the net. You can definitely see the difference.”

Seguin finished with a game-high three points, and each of the line’s first two goals got produced because the 21-year-old went straight to the net. On the first goal Seguin used his speed and strength to power right post Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf, and got off a close shot as the Leafs captain was slashing at his ankles. That Seguin move created a rebound that a hustling Patrice Bergeron was able to push home for the game’s first goal in the first period.

In the second period Brad Marchand broke the puck into the Toronto zone and drew three Leafs defenders toward including an incredibly out-of-position Phaneuf, and Seguin drove toward the net before receiving the pass from his linemate and snapping home a goal under the crossbar. The fun stuff arrived late in the third period when Bergeron and Seguin teamed for an empty net goal in the final 15 seconds of the game.

The two goals and three points give Seguin five goals and 12 points in his last 10 games, and now have him scoring at the clip everybody expected right out of the chute when he came home from Switzerland.

Beyond Seguin it also appears that Bergeron has taken a step forward with his offensive game, and has six goals and 20 points in 21 games for the Bruins this season. He also leads the NHL with a plus-17 on the season, but the point-per-game player production is something new this year for a player that’s now just entering his prime hockey years. Bergeron is the engine that makes everything else on the line go, and he’s always been the constant.

So what’s the new element that’s take the line to a different level?

It’s the ascension of Marchand, who in three years has gone from bottom line agitator to one of the NHL’s most dangerous, clutch goal scorer. He showed his tenacity by stripping the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Korbinian Holzer of the puck in the neutral zone to set up Bergeron’s first period goal.

Then Marchand and Clarke MacArthur almost came to blows in the second period just prior to the line’s second goal. It’s clear how much attention and respect opposing defenses are paying to the rabble-rousing Marchand when he attracted three defenders toward him on a rush into the offensive zone in the second period.

That scenario left Seguin open for his first goal of the evening and has allowed Marchand to start padding his assist totals after his goal-scoring binge to start the year. The Nose Face Killah now has five assists in his last three games.

He had his own creative theory as to why the assists are starting to pile up for him after he had only two assists in the first 18 games of the season.  

“It’s because Seggy [Tyler Seguin] is finally starting to finish,” said a chirping Marchand with a laugh. “It was getting a little frustrating there early on, and it’s nice to see him finally get a couple there and get his confidence up there with the last goal.

“But that stuff happens. Goals come in bunches, and assists come in bunches. There will be a bunch of games where we don’t get anything. So it’s just how it goes.”

It’s tough to envision a “bunch of games” where Marchand, Bergeron and Seguin all come up with nothing this season, and it’s even more difficult to envision the Bruins having any success in those games.

With the dominant start to the 2013 NHL season, Marchand is going to begin seeing all kinds of attention from the league and hockey world in general. Things like All-Star appearances, Olympic team invites and NHL Award recognition usually come in the same breath, and those kinds of things are waiting for the 24-year-old if he can keep successfully walking the line between effective emotional force and an agitator with a bad reputation.

“That’s something we talked about this year that he’s staying more composed, but he still plays that game and gets under people’s skin,” said Bergeron. “Then he responds with offense. I think that’s the best way to answer, and that shift was a good example.”

Bergeron, Marchand and Seguin are setting good examples all over the ice in the team’s first 21 games, and now it’s up to the rest of the Black and Gold roster to follow.