In diagnosing what is hampering the Bruins as they stare at a 2-1 series deficit to the Canadiens, one area that cannot be overlooked is the disappearance of the Bruinsí most productive line during the regular season.
David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Jarome Iginla were one of the most dangerous trios in the NHL in 2013-14, but have been unable to get into a consistent groove in the playoffs, most noticeably in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Montreal.
Hereís a look at their (lack of) production in the series.
The most glaring of all, as Krejci is usually the teamís leading scorer come playoff time. Krejci was the Bruinsí leading scoring in the regular season, tallying 69 points, while leading the league with a plus-39 rating. He led the Bruins in points in both of their runs to the Stanley Cup final over the past three seasons, and is a key part of the Bruinsí offense.
This postseason, Krejci has no goals and just three assists. Against Montreal, he has one assist and, more shockingly, a minus-2 rating in three games. After attempting five shots in Game 1, he totaled only two in Games 2 and 3. He also totaled only 18:46 in ice time for Game 3, his lowest total since Game 2 against the Red Wings. Krejci, normally one of the top centers in the league, is also struggling in the faceoff circle, winning more faceoffs than he lost this series in only Game 2, while losing a staggering 71.43 percent of the faceoffs he took in Game 3.
It goes without saying that if the Bruins want to get back into this series, David Krejci is going to have to figure out what is holding him back from being the dynamic offensive presence he has been during his time in Boston.
Nathan Hortonís replacement on the Bruinsí top line was spectacular during the regular season, scoring 30 goals and 31 assists, and played well in the Bruinsí first round series against the Red Wings, scoring two goals and two assists in the five games, including the game-winner in overtime of Game 4.
Since the Bruins began their second round matchup with the Canadiens, however, Iginla has yet to contribute much, getting only one shot off in Game 2 and scoring on his only shot attempt in Game 3 (itís debatable whether that goal should really belong to him or Andrej Meszaros). Like Krejci, Iginla has a minus-2 rating in this series, and the 36-year-old needs to get more than a shot a game if the Bruins want any chance of tying this series.
Lucic has been the most productive of the three so far in these playoffs, scoring three goals and adding an assist against the Red Wings in the first round. Lucic totaled 24 goals and 35 assists in the regular season and finished just outside the top 10 in the league in plus/minus rating.
So far in the second round, Lucic has been vastly more productive than his linemates, though considering how poor they have played, that isnít saying much. Lucic has a goal (an empty-netter in Game 2) and two assists in the three games, and is the only member of the line without a negative plus/minus rating (heís an even 0). His shot totals are very low though, getting off two in each of the three games. Lucic also needs to increase his physicality, as he can usually wear the other team down over the course of a game, then take advantage when their fatigue sets in.
All in all, it is going to take full contributions from the line as a whole if the Bruins hope to grab a win in Game 4 and split these two games in Montreal to send the series back to Boston tied.