Will Bruins close depth gap against Lightning?


With a four-point night, Brayden Point experienced a “redemption game” in helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win Game 2 and tie their series 1-1. He might have also put the Boston Bruins’ depth disadvantage under the spotlight during that 4-2 win for the Bolts.

You almost don’t need to look at the box score to guess which Bruins generated offense in that losing effort. Brad Marchand was involved in both goals (two assists), Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak collected one assist apiece, and two key defensemen (Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug) supplied the goals.

The thing is, there are occasions where the Bruins’ absurdly dangerous top trio can drag them to the finish line. The Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak combination is simply that explosive.

The Lightning stand as one of the few teams that could conceivably trade blows with that top-heavy setup, at least on paper, as J.T. Miller, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov boast the talent and versatility to stick with just about anyone.

Maybe the Bergeron line translates to a couple wins in this series, but a playoff run almost always demands production from supporting cast members, not just stars. That’s where things get interesting in Game 3 (and beyond).

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Here are a few players the Bruins want more from:

On one hand, Krejci has a point per game during this run (nine points in nine games). Game 2 ended a three-game point streak for Krejci, who collected five points, including three assists in that Game 7 against the Maple Leafs.

Still, his all-around play draws some criticism. That dichotomy was best illustrated during that Game 7 win, as Krejci was productive, but NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty still had issue with some of the smaller details:

  • Still, in the grand scheme of things, Krejci has been productive. You could say the same for Jake DeBrusk, who scored that sensational goal in Game 7 and has eight points during his maiden voyage in the postseason.
  • Stop if you’ve heard this before, but Rick Nash is getting his chances, yet he’s not burying them as much as his team would like.

Game 1 was a refreshing exception, as Nash scored two goals in that win. It’s also heartening that, for all of his career postseason struggles, Nash has had some success against the Lightning. During the 2014-15 postseason, Nash generated seven points for the Rangers during their seven-game series against Tampa Bay.

Those are the positive notes. They don’t change that Nash only has four points in nine playoff games so far, with half of his production coming during a 6-2 win in Game 1. While there’s certainly some benefit to the puck going in the right direction when he’s on the ice (including 29 shots on goal in nine contests), the Bruins acquired him in hopes of buttressing their high-end scoring with depth support.

  • The other “Ri-Nash” has been pretty much nonexistent. After generating 41 points during the regular season and looking comfortable between Marchand and Pastrnak during spells when Bergeron was injured, Riley Nash hasn’t gotten a lot done in the playoffs.

Through seven games, Riley Nash has zero goals and one assist. He’s gone five consecutive games without even registering a shot on goal. Not ideal for an intriguing player who’s set to become a UFA.

Now, Riley Nash might not be healthy, so some of this might be out of his hands. If he’s hobbled, the Bruins either need to consider giving him a breather or perhaps giving him more help as far as linemates go. Hey, that Ryan Donato guy isn’t busy, is he?

  • Danton Heinen has been another disappointment when you consider his strong regular season (47 points in 77 games). Heinen only has one goal and zero assists through eight playoff games, generating a meager shot on goal per contest.


Tuukka Rask absorbs some critiques here and there when the Bruins have stumbled during the postseason, and his work will obviously make a big impact on Boston’s fortunes.

Still, while the Bruins’ biggest names can take them very far, this impressive team could be that much scarier if they gain more frequent contributions down the lineup. Krejci, DeBrusk, and (Rick) Nash are periodically giving the B’s a nice boost, but this team could use a little more from their bottom six forwards.

The Lightning might just force the issue during this series.

Game 3 airs on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET tonight. Here’s the livestream link.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.