BOSTON – The Bruins' Perfection Line started off pretty slowly against the Carolina Hurricanes in the conference final, and really didn't get rolling until the fourth and final clinching game in the sweep of the Canes.
So perhaps it wasn't a surprise that Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were once again slow out of the gate in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night in the 4-2 victory over the Blues at TD Garden. Sure, Marchand finally scored the empty netter at the end of the game to clinch things, but they also had some rough moments in the first half of the game, including being on ice for both of the St. Louis goals.
In total, they had a pretty average 11 shots on net and five giveaways to show for their evening of work, and that's something they know they can improve on while playing a simpler game.
"They're a team that's really good on the fore-check, and they turn the puck over a lot. I think we have to be smart in taking care of the puck," said Bergeron. "When we do, and keep things simple, we get out of our zone and that helps going forward. I think the north-south kind of game is a lot more of what we need to do in this series."
Marchand looked rusty with his hands after the 10-day break between playoff games, and was fumbling pucks and fanning on shot attempts in the opening 20 minutes. Pastrnak had a sloppy reverse pass off the end boards at the start of the second period that was intercepted by Brayden Schenn and turned into a Vladimir Tarasenko goal.
They were shut out offensively as a line until the empty netter in the third, and Bruce Cassidy opted to replace them defensively on the Blues top line when he switched the fourth line onto Schenn, Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz in the second period to great success. Cassidy admitted afterward that it was an off night for the Perfection Line clearly not living up to their name, but they'll get every opportunity to get it all back in Wednesday night's Game 2.
"It wasn't going our way, it's that simple. I thought Bergy's [Patrice Bergeron] line had a tough time finding their game tonight and the other guys were a little bit ahead of them, in terms of their puck possession. So we've used Kuraly's [Sean Kuraly] line all year against good lines," said Cassidy. "We decided to maybe go that route which worked out for us tonight and we'll reevaluate on Wednesday.
"Or [Charlie] Coyle's line, I thought that they were having a good night too. More offense against offense and I think they had the puck a lot. That's usually how you contain good lines. Usually Bergy's [Patrice Bergeron] line will have a lot of offensive zone puck possession but for whatever reason tonight they weren't able to do it as much as they typically do."
While it may take Boston's top trio a game or two to figure things out and get going at their top level, the smart money says Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak will be much better in Game 2 with the Bruins in need of some elevated play.