Bruce Cassidy Needs to Get Away from the Bergeron / Tavares Match-Up in Game 4.

Bruce Cassidy Needs to Get Away from the Bergeron / Tavares Match-Up in Game 4.

John Tavares and Jake Muzzin are doing a number on the Boston Bruins top line and Bruce Cassidy needs to be prepared to break-up his top unit in Game 4.

The line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, nicknamed ’The Perfection Line’ has been completely shut down by the Maple Leafs top line of Tavares, Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman in this series. On the backend, Muzzin and Nikita Zaitsev have seen the most ice against the Bruins top group and have played a big part in keeping them quiet through 3 games.

The Bruins can’t match the Leafs depth-wise up-front and if head coach Bruce Cassidy can’t find a way to get away from this top-line match-up, his team is going to be in trouble. The Tavares line and Bergeron line have essentially canceled each other out, which works in Toronto’s favor. Yet, Cassidy still seems to believe his top trio can work through the head-to-head match-up.

“Honestly, I don’t mind it. It’s two good lines going head-to-head every night”, said Cassidy after the Maple Leafs 3-2 win on Monday. “It’s going to tilt our way at some point, our players are too good. If we feel that it’s really an impediment of us having success then we’re going to get away from it or break up the line. We do it at times, move {Pastrnak} around. We tried to get away from it on some icings to see if it would work our way.”

It did not.

In just under 10 minutes of ice against each other at 5-on-5, the Tavares line held the Bergeron line without a point and without a high-danger shot on net.

That’s as good as it gets for Toronto and when you look at the series, as a whole, it seems pretty clear that Cassidy needs to get away from this match-up ASAP. In over 22 minutes against Hyman, Tavares, and Marner, the Bergeron line has one high-danger shot on net and zero points.

The Bergeron line has one even-strength goal in the series and it came against Auston Matthews’ line in Boston’s Game 2 win – a game in which Cassidy avoided the Tavares match-up, almost entirely. Now that the Leafs have last change, it might be time for Cassidy to split this group up because they’ve shown no signs of being able to break through against the Tavares line / Muzzin & Zaitsev pairing.

Don’t expect this to happen when the puck drops on Game 4 but there is a chance, if the Bruins big boys don’t get going early, Cassidy will make an in-game adjustment. In the meantime, the Bruins head coach believes a greasy goal is the key to his top line getting on the board against the Tavares line. “I do believe a second chance goal is in their future if they start funneling pucks a little more. Getting some pucks to the net off-the-rush”, said Cassidy. The strength of this line is their quick puck movement and creativity in the offensive zone. Is turning them into net-crashers the best course of action at this point or is breaking them up for chunks of Game 4 to get them away from the Tavares line / Muzzin, Zaitsev pairing? We’ll find out soon.

Cassidy has a hunch that his top guys can play through the Tavares match-up but he’d better have a really short leash if this doesn’t happen early in tonight’s game. If not, the Bruins run the risk of falling behind 3-1 to a very different Maple Leafs team than the one they bounced from the playoffs a year ago.

(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)