NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Bruins have one of the best lines in hockey. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak grab most of the headlines around the team, and rightfully so. But we often overlook one of their consistent offensive threats.
Boston has been searching for secondary scoring for a while now. The expectations are that general manager Don Sweeney will pull the trigger on a deal before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. What he’s really looking for is someone to play with second-line center David Krejci.
The 33-year-old is the highest paid player on the Bruins roster and although he isn’t the most productive, he’s still a model of consistency for their younger players. The veteran is coming off a 73-point season last year and he’s on his way to hitting the 60-point mark again in 2019-20.
Last month, he missed back-to-back games with an upper-body injury. Since coming back, he’s picked up five points in just four contests.
Krejci has spent most of the year with Jake DeBrusk, who has picked up 11 points in his last 10 games, on his wing. The duo could use another reliable face on their line. The two have spent almost 377 minutes on the ice together this season, per Natural Stat Trick. But there hasn’t been much consistency on Krejci’s other wing. The Bruins center has spent time with Danton Heinen, Pastrnak, Marchand, Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork.
The key for Sweeney will be for him to find a right winger that can skate on Krejci’s line on a full-time basis. Chris Kreider, Ilya Kovalchuk, Tyler Toffoli and Ondrej Kase could all be options for Boston in the near future. Of course, the asking prices will likely determine who the Bruins can go get, but anyone of those forwards could fit in on that second line.
Don’t get it twisted, the Bruins are good enough to go another run to the Stanley Cup Final with their current roster.. They have the goaltending, the defense, and the forwards to be considered one of the favorites to come out of the East. But if they want to elbow their way to the front of the line, they’ll need to make at least one splash before Feb. 24.
The Bruins brought back all six of their leading scorers from last year’s playoff run. Their seventh best scorer, Marcus Johansson, was a trade acquisition from the New Jersey Devils. Johansson put up a respectable 11 points in 22 games, which is exactly the type of production they could use from a right winger on the second line.
Of course, trade deadline deals don’t always pan out, but the Bruins have a history of making these short-term acquisitions work for the best.
The Bruins will head into tonight’s game with five-point advantage over the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot in the Atlantic Division (Tampa has a game in hand). They’re also one point behind the Washington Capitals for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will call Blackhawks-Bruins game from United Center in Chicago, Ill. Liam McHugh anchors studio coverage with Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and NHL insider Bob McKenzie.