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B's 2nd line produces 1st-rate results

BOSTON -- After the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Thursday night at TD Garden, Bruins forwards Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin stood in one corner of the locker room, chirping away at each other as they often do. At the other end of the room, linemate and assistant captain Patrice Bergeron was calmly answering questions amid a media scrum.

From a personality standpoint, the three linemates couldn't be any more different. On the ice, however, they form one of the best lines in the league.

The Bruins' second line scored three of Boston's four goals against the Maple Leafs and combined for eight points. Seguin had two goals (one empty-netter) and an assist. Bergeron had one goal and two assists, and Marchand had two assists. As a unit, they have recorded 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points in the past nine games.

With that production, the Bruins continue to dominate the Maple Leafs. Boston is 8-0-1 in its past nine games against Toronto. Overall this season, the Bruins are 15-3-3 (33 points) for second place in the Northeast Division.

It's easy to see how everything they do on the ice has become second nature.

"It's fun. We have a lot of fun out there and it seems like we're continuing to build and find each other a little bit more each game," Marchand said. "We work pretty hard on and off the ice. We talk to each other to figure things out. It's a lot of fun to play with those guys; they're obviously very skilled players and definitely very easy to play with."

Most of the time it's nothing fancy. Their production is the result of hard work, heads-up playmaking and tape-to-tape passes.

"We're obviously feeding off each other and the chemistry's always been there," Bergeron said. "We've got to keep it going, obviously, but we're feeling good. When we're moving our feet and we're first on the puck is when we're at our best."

This line has been Boston's best all season. Even coach Claude Julien said after a recent loss that the team's other three lines need to contribute more.

"It was one of those games where that line did a great job, as far as getting pucks past their defense, and then working through it and doing the grunt work," Julien said Thursday night.

"We've got three good players on that line," added Julien. "Brad Marchand is a really good player in this league and doesn't get the credit he deserves because he instigates a lot of stuff. Bergeron, he's already been recognized [with the Selke Award winner] for his two-way work, and Tyler's a great player."

Marchand extended his point streak to four games. Overall, he has 12 goals and eight assists for 20 points. Bergeron has 10 points in his past six games, and six goals and 15 assists for 21 points overall.

Bergeron's work ethic and dedication makes his linemates better. That's one of the reasons Julien originally wanted Seguin on that line when he first arrived in Boston as a rookie.

"When you've got a guy like Bergeron doing such a good job down in your own end, the puck gets out quicker," explained Julien. "When you have those guys on each side of you there's a pretty good attack going on. That's a good line for us and all three deserve a lot of credit."

When the Bruins start with the puck after a faceoff win, it usually translates into success. Boston's centermen are among the league's best. Bergeron is ranked No. 6 in the league with a 61.6 percent success rate on drops. He was 12-for-20 against the Leafs on Thursday. But even when he loses a draw, most times he's still the first one on the puck in an attempt to force a turnover.

"He doesn't like to lose draws," Julien said. "If you lose a draw, for him it's a mistake and he's going to try to redeem himself as quick as he can. That's the reliability that comes with his game."

At the start of the season, Julien spoke with Marchand about finding that fine line between playing that role as the agitator, while being effective offensively. The high-flying winger provided a perfect example of that newly formed composure early in the second period.

During a TV timeout, the Leafs' Clarke MacArthur was chirping with Marchand. Once the puck dropped on the ensuing faceoff, MacArthur tried to tempt Marchand into dropping the gloves. Instead, as Boston gained possession of the puck in the neutral zone, Marchand eluded a frustrated MacArthur and assisted on Seguin's first goal of the game at 7:11 of the period.

"Right now it's not on my list to fight," Marchand said. "I'd rather be out there playing the game. That's an example and he told me his coach sent him out after me and he didn't like the way I was playing. It was good karma for us because we scored on the play and it was just another tough one for them."

Anytime the Bruins face the Maple Leafs at the Garden, the chants of "Thank you, Kessel" echo in the rafters. Those chants stem from the Phil Kessel trade, when Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli dealt the talented but unproductive forward to the Maple Leafs in exchange for Toronto's first-round picks in 2010 and 2011, which Boston used to select Seguin as the No. 2 overall pick in 2010 and Dougie Hamilton a year later.

Even though he would probably never admit it publicly, Seguin seems to play with a little more motivation against his hometown team. He has 10 goals and six assists for 16 points in 14 career games against the Leafs and a plus-9 rating.

"I try to prepare for every game," Seguin said with a smile.

Julien has noticed that Seguin has been quicker on the puck in recent weeks and hasn't been hesitating on the forecheck.

"When he skates the way he can skate, and takes the hesitation out, a lot of good things happen for him," Julien said.

During the work stoppage earlier this season, Seguin was one of 12 Bruins players to play in Europe. He played 29 games for Biel in the Swiss League and recorded 25 goals with 15 assists for 40 points on the international ice surface. That scoring touch did not immediately translate on the smaller ice surface once the NHL lockout ended and the Bruins began the 2013 season on Jan. 19.

It took Seguin a while to find his groove, but he's improved the past few weeks. He now has five multiple-point games. He has five goals with seven assists for 12 points in his past 10 games.

"The last couple of weeks I've been playing good in my D zone and competing more than I was at the start of the season," Seguin said. "Over in Europe, I think I was circling a bit more and didn't have to battle. I don't even think I got hit over there for the few months I was there. I had to find that game again and I think it's coming around now."

Boston's win over Toronto snapped a two-game losing skid, but there are areas the Bruins still need to clean up if they want to get on another roll, especially with the Philadelphia Flyers coming to town for a matinee tilt on Saturday.

"We're certainly not perfect right now," Julien said. "We're certainly not firing on all cylinders. Right now we're laboring through it, but the work ethic was there tonight. The peaks and valleys of a season are pretty obvious, and if you watch us play, nothing is real easy right now. We're working through it and if we keep working like that it'll come back."

Maybe some of the Bruins' second-line success will rub off on the rest of the team.