The Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak has been difficult for the Islanders to contain through the first three games of the second-round series, but Boston packs a one-two punch with its revamped second unit.
Since acquiring Taylor Hall from the Sabres on the eve of the trade deadline this season, the Bruins have forged a lethal top six. In addition to the Perfection Line, Hall, David Krejci and Craig Smith are a dynamic trio who are continuously developing chemistry.
“That Krejci-Hall line is dangerous, too,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Thursday before his team’s 2-1 overtime loss in Game 3. “The line that’s been getting us the most is the Bergeron line. So we’ve been talking about them a little bit more. But ever since Taylor Hall, Smith and Krejci have been together, on some teams they would be a number one line.”
After scoring just two goals in 37 games with Buffalo this season, Hall has come alive with Boston, recording eight goals in 16 contests. In eight playoff games, Hall has three goals and two assists — including a power-play goal on an empty Islanders net in Game 1.
The Bruins’ 1B line was broken up for Game 2 when Smith was held out with a lower-body injury. But the right winger returned Thursday night and made his presence known. Taking a sharp pass from Hall in the first period, Smith sent a swift shot that beat Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov high glove to make it 1-0, a score that held up until the last 5 ½ minutes of regulation when Mathew Barzal tied it up to force overtime.
In Game 3, Hall, Krejci and Smith combined for a goal, an assist and 10 shots on goal.
“They have a lot of poise, I mean, especially through the middle,” Jordan Eberle said Friday. “Krejci is a poised player, makes a lot of plays. And then they obviously have a lot of speed and the work ethic on the outside. Definitely a line you have to key on, they create a lot of their offense as well and we have to be able to shut those guys down.”
Trotz expects to deploy the same lineup in Game 4 on Saturday as he has since Oliver Wahlstrom was knocked out of Game 5 in the first-round series against the Penguins.
Wahlstrom, who has missed four straight games with a lower-body injury, is still considered day-to-day.
Varlamov has allowed a goal on one of the first three shots he has faced in all four of his playoff starts, but Trotz thought the Russian netminder was “outstanding” for a majority of the overtime loss in Game 3 Thursday.
“Obviously, the last goal he would want back but he kept us in it,” Trotz said of Marchand’s game-winner. “I don’t have any problem with his game.”
Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, who was out for over a month this season with a concussion, was shaken up behind Boston’s net in the third period after taking a hard hit from Cal Clutterbuck. His head snapped against the boards and he had to be helped off the ice to the locker room.
Bruce Cassidy said Friday that Carlo is “day-to-day,” but feeling better. The Boston coach didn’t rule Carlo out for Game 4, but if the second-pair defenseman is unavailable, either Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril or Jarred Tinordi would take his place.