By Joe Haggerty
The Brad Marchand pairing with Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron first arrived to the Bruinsout of injuries and necessity.But Claude Julien made clear what everybody else seems to alreadyknow following the Bs 6-2 landslide over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on Saturday afternoon: that particularlinecombinationwill probably be staying together for a good long stretch.
The MarchandRecchiBergeron line gets that kind of consideration after accounting for four goals in the win, and proving once again that they can both A) shut down the other teams line with suffocating defense and B) attack the sometimes suspect defensive bent of those offensive lines and make them pay with puck impunity.
The trio also piled up 15 of Bostons 40 shots in the victory, and certainly deserved a big helping of the credit pie for the Bs win. That's the kind of solid hustle and heady play that can make a hockey coach look like a genius.
Were getting a lot out of those guys, said Julien in the understatement of the year. Were pairing them up against top lines and theyre doing a good job. Theyre producing at the other end and theyve been very reliable. I really like that line.
Thats why weve kind of kept them together. We know Marchand was a big part of that line with Gregory Campbell and ShawnThornton, but weve been able to find some guys that have gone in and made them a good line. We like what Marchand has brought to Bergeron and Recchi, and we dont plan on breaking that one up anytime soon.
Offensive production iswhat happened early and often against an Avalanche team experiencingsome serious defensive difficulties.It was fitting Marchand and Co. got things movingin the first period after a fitful first few minutes. After the Bruins had struggled through the first three minutes and found themselves down 1-0, a Gregory Campbell fight changed the momentum of the game and Marchands 11th goal of the season allowed the Black and Gold to keep it there.
Recchi had the puck as he edged toward the corner and flipped a pass right atthe net as he saw Marchand storming toward the cage -- a trait that makes Marchand both a pest and a viable offensive force. The puck bounced off a Colorado body in front, and the alert Marchand popped it past Craig Anderson to tie the game.That was just the beginning for all three forwards on a day that made their combination look all the more like a No. 1 NHL line.
Marchand and Recchi were at it again in the second, and this time it was Marchand setting things up with some playmaking ability: the kind of head-turning skill that someof his teammates sheepishly admit theydidnt know existed before he got his game going this season.
Marchand skated up the left wing looking shot the entire time, and drew the defense and goaltender toward him before slipping a pass to Recchi all alone for the 573rd goal of Recchi's Hall fo Fame career a strike that ties him with Mike Bossy for 19th on the NHL all-time list.
Its the kind of elite hockey playfrom Marchand that continues to surprise Recchi, though it probably wont after this weekend. Its really not a coincidence that every line Marchand joins up with seems to take off from an energy and offensive production standpoint, and people are beginning to put together that a great deal of the credit belongs to a player many thought was a simple pest as he was breaking into the league.
I've got to be honest with you. I didnt know that he had it in him what hes shown us, and Im glad that I was wrong, said Recchi. I knew he was skilled and he worked, but hes earned every bit of it and he deserves it. Honestly I havent been wrong on too many guys, but I was wrong on him thinking he couldnt take that next step and become an elite player.
Hes on that path. Hes a great kid. We always like that work ethic and energy, but hes confident and hes really let those skills take over. Now he knows that he can be a very good player in this league and Bergie and I really enjoy playing with him quite a bit.
Bergeron was solid and steady throughout the game as he always is. The B's leading scorer threw out a little bit ofspectacular in the third period on a goal that showed exactly what the Bs Assistant Captain is all about.The pivotdropped to his knees after being knocked off balance with the puck, but he still somehow shoveled a backhanded passshot from his knees that ticked off the skate of John-Michael Liles and added to Bostons goal total.Not surprisingly Marchand was crashing the net and would have had another goal on the play if Bergeron didn't get a little puck luck on his 16th goal of the season. That three-point afternoon keeps him on pace for 27 goals and 67 points this season -- the kind of numbers that put him right in line with the Bergeron of pre-concussion days.
The game was already in hand at that point of the third period, but that play perfectly depicted Bergerons indefatigable desire and compete level no matter what the score a trait thats transformed Bergeron backinto Bostons best all-around player over the last two months at a time when his team desperately needed him.
Marchand is strong on the puck. Bergeron is strong on the puck. Im just feeding off of it, said Recchi. Right from day one that Marchand was put in there with us weve really felt great together. Were all on the same page. We all like to fore-check and get energy that way. We all like to cycle the puck. Hopefully we can keep this up.
Before the season began, it was expected to be hotshot rookie Tyler Seguin on the wing paired with Bergeron and Recchi in a brilliantoffensive grouping filled with potential but instead Marchand has become that hotshot rookie thats helped spur his other fellow forwards on to bigger, better and scrappierthings this season.
Get used to saying the names ofBergeron, Marchand and Recchi together for all things Bruins it doesnt look like theyll be playing anywhere elsegoing forward with much good reason.