2. Pelech and Pulock vs. the Bergeron Line
The Boston Bruins top line featuring Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak absolutely trounced a wounded and weak Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at the NHL’s weekend retreat in Lake Tahoe.
Pastrnak scored a hat-trick, Bergeron and Marchand collected a few assists, and the “Perfection Line” combined for six total points in Boston’s 7-3 rout of the Flyers on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.
Like in the Islanders’ and Bruins’ previous two meetings, that was the assignment the defensive pairing of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock were deployed against Thursday. A tough assignment for any D pairing. But, Pelech and Pulock have been among the NHL’s very best duos during 2020-21 in xGF%, and their performance on Thursday was another good one.
Unsurprisingly, on February 13, the last time the Islanders and Bruins played, Pelech and Pulock shared the ice most-often against the Bergeron line. While many elements of the intriguing matchup between the Islanders suffocating pairing and the Bruins electric top line stayed the same, there were also some key differences to Thursday’s action.
The main difference between Thursday and February 13 was the ability of the Bergeron line to consistently drive play into the offensive zone against the Islanders top pair at 5v5. That didn’t happen as much in the previous meeting, a 4-2 Islanders win.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Bergeron line won Thursday’s Corsi and Fenwick battle 14-10 and 11-6 respectively at 5v5. So they got their shots, and they accrued a fair bit of zone time.
But, Thursday is also a great example of quantity vs. quality. While Begeron and Co. slung more rubber than any of the other Bruins lines, they also had the worst xGF and xGF% rating of any of Boston’s 5v5 trios, according to Natural Stat Trick. In other words, they shot the puck more often than the other Boston forward lines, but it was from lower-percentage locations.
Pastrnak, Sunday’s hat-trick hero, finished with .13 ixG, and Brad Marchand finished with a measly .02 in the same category. Patrice Bergeron got four very high-quality shot attempts from the inner slot, and he led the way for his line on Thursday in the losing effort.
It’s always intriguing when the Islanders and Bruins meet. Not in the least because when they do we get to see a showdown between one of the NHL’s premier offensive units and one of its best defensive ones. That’s what we got again on Thursday, and the Islanders got the better of it this time. Hopefully, that’s a trend we get to see more of in the future.