It takes two.
That ancient adage is an expression that is overused to a nauseating degree. Unfortunately (having said unfortunately stems from all writers trying to avoid clichés), the above-mentioned phrase can apply to all National Hockey League teams vying for the Stanley Cup.
The NHL does have a handful of juggernaut teams that are loaded from top to bottom. The Tampa Bay Lightning are a great example, currently leading the league with 66 points and producing offense from the likes of their bottom-six forwards or defensemen. However, there are too many teams that are propelled by either one top scoring line or a top pair that carries the team on their backs. Is anyone familiar with the Dallas Stars or the Colorado Avalanche?
Anyway, the Boston Bruins have been stuck in this category for the better part of two seasons. We all know about B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy’s fixation on the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak trio, so there is no need to dig further into that aspect of the team.
It is a well-established topic. It is time to move on.
What is worth discussing is that in order for the Bruins to have any serious Stanley Cup aspirations, the emergence of another prolific pair or line is a must.
With that being said, David Krejci has been looking for consistent linemates ever since Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton departed from Boston. Krejci is a true number-two center and he has the capability to make everyone he plays with that much better with his sharp passing and hockey sense.
The 32-year-old forward played some of the best hockey of his career during that 16-game span the team lost Bergeron to injury. With Marchand and Pastrnak as his linemates this season, Krejci has posted five goals and nine assists for 14 points. Otherwise, he has just two goals and 17 assists.
It is safe to say that when Krejci has capable linemates flanking him on either side, his game improves. That is where Jake DeBrusk comes in.
The former first-round pick went 14th overall in 2015. That was the same year where the Bruins famously—or infamously, depending on your philosophical bend—had three-straight draft picks. With all due respect to Jakub Zboril and Zach Senyshyn, the 13th and 15th selections who bookended DeBrusk, have not exactly panned out for the Black and Gold.
The young Edmonton, Alberta native is in just his second NHL season and has been limited to 102 NHL games due to nagging injuries and his time in the American Hockey League. DeBrusk already has 13 goals during the 2018-19 season and is on pace to easily surpass his 2017-18 season total of 16.
In fact, DeBrusk has eight game-winning goals in his NHL career, including the winning tally this past Thursday night in Boston’s victory over the Calgary Flames. The 22-year-old left winger has shown poise and a clutch factor that is hard to come by in young skaters.
Krejci is the play-making wizard who thrives in all three zones and sets up his teammates with elite scoring chances. DeBrusk is the rugged forward who has a great shot and is not afraid to go to the dirty areas. In other words, the pairing of Krejci and DeBrusk has worked during the regular season.
The playoffs, however, are a different animal. That is when the true test begins.
Krejci led the NHL in points during the B’s run through the 2011 and 2013 postseason. He came away with one Stanley Cup for his efforts. In his lone venture through the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2017-18, DeBrusk skated in 12 games and recorded six goals.
Not bad, right?
The Bruins have the makings of another dynamic offensive combination on their hands. Assuming both players stay healthy, this is the balance needed to make some noise in the playoffs.