CHICAGO -- Opponents have been unsuccessful in trying to contain the explosive offensive surge by the Boston Bruins' top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
That is, until now.
The Chicago Blackhawks have limited that line to only nine points in the first four games of the Stanley Cup finals. Boston's top trio entered this series with a total of 51 points in the previous 16 games this postseason.
Only Lucic has scored in this series, with two goals in Game 1 and one in Game 4, while Krejci (three assists) and Horton (two assists) have yet to light the lamp against Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford.
With the best-of-seven series tied at 2-2 and Game 5 on Saturday at the United Center, Krejci understands his line needs to produce a little more.
"There's nothing to it," Krejci said. "Just play the game. It's not like we've sucked or something the last game. I feel like we just played so-so, and so-so is not good enough. We have to skate hard. We have to hit. We have to pay attention to little details. As far as our line goes, we have to take care of our defensive zone first and go from there."
While the Bruins have been receiving offense from the other lines, including the newly revamped third line of Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin, Bruins coach Claude Julien is not concerned about the top unit.
"They've been pretty good throughout the whole playoffs," Julien said. "I certainly wouldn't be the guy to complain about their performance so far. They've been pretty good. But at one point you get to the finals and everybody wants to give a little bit more. I think they're no different. They're a line that's very proud of what they've accomplished in these playoffs so far and would like to finish on a good note. If we can get a little more from those guys, it would be a bonus."
Boston's second line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Seguin was the team's most consistent unit during the regular season, while Krejci's line dealt with too many inconsistencies. But once the puck dropped on the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Lucic-Krejci-Horton trio has been solid. Overall it has 60 points in 20 games.
"We have to be big. We have to be playing great," Krejci said. "We have to be playing the way we know how to play, but we also need the other lines to play our hockey. Obviously, the last game we gave up six goals, which is a lot for our team, and that's not how we want to play up-and-down hockey. We've got to play good Boston Bruins hockey and all four lines have to chip in and we've got to keep going."
The Blackhawks have been able to contain Boston's top line in this series.
"They've been playing us tight from Game 1," Lucic said. "They've been keeping a good gap, and as you can tell, they definitely try to take away your space in all areas, in all three zones. We definitely need to be better as a line and we've got to find a way to break through in whatever kind of adjustments that they've made.
"You definitely want to step your game up in order to help your team win," added Lucic. "You want to do whatever you can to contribute. As the series goes along, and every game gets bigger and bigger, and right now it being 2-2, it's come down to the best of three and there's a maximum of three games left in this year's hockey season; when you look at it like that, the focus has to be to put everything on the line because there's nothing left after a potential three games. You want to leave it all out there and hope you can bring your best in order to help your team win."
Ever since Horton aggravated a shoulder injury in Game 1 of this series, he's been limited to two assists after producing seven goals and 10 assists in the first 16 games of the playoffs. Still, he's a plus-23 and his teammates don't believe his injury is affecting his play too much.
"I think Horty's been playing OK," Krejci said. "We haven't been putting the puck in the net but he made a terrific play on the tying goal [in Game 4] when Johnny [Boychuk] shot it, so he's still doing his thing. I don't think we should talk about him; we should talk about us as a line. Each of us has to help each other a little more, and maybe the last couple of games we didn't look like the line that we would like to play in the finals. We know we can do it. We know we can do it against Chicago. We're ready to bounce back."