BOSTON – Watch out for the Perfection Line, NHL.
Now they are feeling it and they’re kind of pissed off that anybody began to doubt them after a slow start to the playoffs, and a real tough beginning to the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
David Pastrnak scored a pair of goals, Brad Marchand netted his first goal of the second round against Columbus and the Bruins gained a strong upper hand in the series with a 4-3 win in Game 5 over the Blue Jackets at TD Garden.
After the game Marchand clapped back at a question about his line’s strong night and Pastrnak admitted that No. 63 “was a little crispy” at some of the recent criticism they’ve received. Well, Marchand can certainly stay extra crispy if it leads to dominant playoff games.
Last night was certainly a far cry from the one point that trio had combined for in the first three games of the series against Columbus, and Pastrnak sounded a defiant tone after it was all over. That might be the best development of the entire series with three extremely significant offensive players now feeling like they’ve got something to prove to everybody after routinely dominating the NHL over the last two seasons.
So now the Perfection Line now has six goals and 11 points in the last two games after combining for just one point in the first three games of this series against Columbus.
Now would be about the time that the Blue Jackets might just be panicking that the sleeping Black and Gold giant has just woken up.
“To be honest I think the only one who is putting pressure on us is you guys [the media],” said Pastrnak. “[We’re] Just playing hockey and trying to win and play for one another. It doesn’t matter who scores. Hockey is a team sport, and that’s how we play as a team.”
It was pretty similar to Marchand’s message after Boston’s Game 4 win in Columbus where the B’s top line definitely seemed to take umbrage at those pointing out their lack of production at the start of the series.
“We’ve gotten a lot of heat, but if you break down the chances for every game then we’re getting five or six really good opportunities every game,” said Marchand, following Game 4 in Columbus. “It’s a matter of time before those guys score goals. If you give [Bergeron and Pastrnak] that many chances to score then they are going to score goals. They’re just too good, so there’s no panic regardless of the outside attention from the media.
“Whatever you guys want to say we’re not concerned about that. We know what’s in this group. We believe in this group. We don’t expect to score every goal. That’s why we’re a good team because we have a good team all around. Everybody expects to pull their weight and do their job. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes other guys score and sometimes we score. That’s why we’re a good team and that’s why we’re in the playoffs. That’s why we’re not concerned about the outside attention.”
The sentiments about it being a team game are nice and Boston’s bottom-6 forwards did plenty to support the club at the start of this series, but the bottom line is that the Bruins needed their top players to step up if they were going to advance. And they have stepped way, way up in the last two games.
Patrice Bergeron kicked in a pair of goals in Boston’s Game 4 win in Columbus, and Pastrnak scored a pair on Saturday night in Boston with a torrid three goals scored in the last two games for the Bruins. The first Pastrnak goal was a wicked wrist shot that Sergei Bobrovsky never even reacted to as Pastrnak rifled it past him, and the game-winner was a thing of transition beauty as Pasta redirected a Marchand cross-ice pass as both players were attacking the Columbus net.
The line combined for three of the team’s four goals, six points and was a plus-8 while generating a whopping 24 shot attempts in the victory. Those are the kinds of dominant puck possession and offensive numbers that the trio put up in last spring’s dominant first round vs. Toronto, and it’s a sign that the Perfection Line might finally be getting things on line in this postseason as well.
Certainly Saturday night’s game might have been their best 5-on-5 performance in the entire Stanley Cup playoff run to date, and it was a performance that most closely matched what they did for so much of the regular season.
“I think tonight was an excellent game for them. They got going in Game 4 up in Columbus. When your offensive guys and players like those guys that put a lot of pressure on themselves to lead, both production-wise, effort-wise, details...you know, if it doesn’t go your way there’s a level of frustration. They’re humans, so now they break through the other night,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Tonight they’re back to feeling good about themselves and listen, you’ve seen them around here. They’re dominant, and when they’re on and they’re very good even when they’re not on.
“If they start feeling it, it’s a tall task for the other team. Now, they’re not going to win every battle because the opposition has good players as well that go through the same, but those guys are elite players. [If this was] not their best game, certainly close, and it came at a good time. Credit to them too to understand the situation we’re in, and we’re in the other night that started the process of us digging out of a deficit.”
Marchand also scored his first of the series after a great first round against the Maple Leafs, and it was all about sticking with it. Connor Clifton made a great choice to rush down toward the goal line after an offensive zone face-off win, and he fed Marchand cross ice at the doorstep. Sergei Bobrovsky made the initial glove save, but Marchand then rifled home the rebound top corner during Boston’s third-period offensive explosion.
“If you give a line like that enough games under their belt against a certain opponent, they’re going to find enough things that work,” said Torey Krug. “Early on they were frustrated the normal things were not working for them but now they’re finding what works. They’re a scary line, they come at you and they attack you. Now pucks are going in for them. Once we get that line going consistently, we’re a very scary team.”
It’s official now. The Bruins are on the verge of eliminating the Blue Jackets in the second round and their Perfection Line is beginning to click on every cylinder. The Bruins are becoming that “very scary team” and their top line is giving them that swagger that’s going to be difficult to derail given all they’ve already overcome in the first couple of rounds in this spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.