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In the NHL, how does scoring depth translate from the regular season to the playoffs?

Jake DeBrusk, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak are four of the 10 Bruins who have double-digit goals this season.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Former Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy spent the 2021-22 season moving pieces around, trying to figure out the best way to distribute his most productive offensive players across different lines.

This season, when current Bruins coach Jim Montgomery tweaks the lineup, he knows he’s not searching for productivity or trying to squeeze out drops of offense wherever he can find them. He knows it will be there.

Twenty-three players have scored for the Bruins this season, and 10 have notched at least 10 goals. David Pastrnak (45), Patrice Bergeron (23), and Brad Marchand (20) have cracked the 20-goal plateau, while Jake DeBrusk (19), Pavel Zacha (16), and Taylor Hall (16) are all within reach.


“It’s a luxury,” Montgomery said. “It allows me to roll lines because I know all four lines can make plays offensively and most importantly shut other teams down defensively. And I think it gives our team confidence overall with as many diverse goal scorers as we have that we can come back because we can attack people wave after wave.”

As much as anything, Marchand said, the Bruins’ scoring depth is one reason they’ve put together the best record in the league and one of the best regular seasons in franchise history.

“I think that’s why we’re having such a great year,” Marchand said. “We don’t rely on one line every night. Obviously, we have guys that produce each night, but we win as a group.

“On any given night, we could have a different line step up. And that’s tough, I think, for other teams to play where it could be the first or the fourth line that comes through with the big goal or a couple of [defensemen] that night. That’s hard to defend.”

There are deep teams across the NHL. Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin, Rickard Rakell, and Jason Zucker have all cracked 20 goals for the Penguins. The Sabres have five 20-goal scorers in Dylan Cozens, Victor Olofsson, Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson, and Alex Tuch. So do the Maple Leafs in Michael Bunting, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and John Tavares.


Depth is a part of the identity of winning Bruins teams. If they end up with six 20-goal scorers, it will be the 24th time in franchise history that they’ve had that many.

But this kind of production has been rare recently. The last time the Bruins had six 20-goal scorers was 2011-12. Before that, it was 2008-09.

The standard for spreading the scoring wealth remains the 1977-78 Bruins. That team scored 333 goals (third in the league) and had 11 players score at least 20. That scoring balance got them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Thirteen players found the net at least once in the postseason.

Depth generally pays off — both in the regular season and the playoffs.

“That’s something that’s going to allow us to have success down the road is we win all the way through our lineup,” Marchand said. “That’s typically when most teams will make really good Cup runs.”

Last year, the Avalanche scored 308 goals (fourth in the league) and had seven 20-goal scorers. They won the Stanley Cup but had to survive a second-round series against the Blues, who scored 309 goals (third) and had nine players finish with 20 goals.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog was one of seven 20-goal scorers last season for the Avalanche, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

Regular-season depth doesn’t guarantee postseason success, but it helps. Since 2000, 39 teams have had at least six 20-goal scorers; six reached the Stanley Cup Finals and four won it. But 15 lost in the first round and 25 didn’t make it past the second round. Three missed the playoffs.


Generally, scoring depth in the regular season holds up in the playoffs. Of the 39 teams with at least six 20-goal scorers since 2000, 17 received goals in the playoffs from each of those players. Nine got scores from all but one.

The defending champion Avalanche are a prime example of depth paying off. Andre Burakovsky, Nazem Kadri, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Valeri Nichushkin, and Mikko Rantanen each had 20-goal regular seasons in 2021-22. When the playoffs came, they all contributed.

Overall, the Avalanche had 16 players score 85 goals in the playoffs, but those seven players who fueled their offense in the regular season combined for 56 goals.

Last year’s Wild team was an example of the opposite extreme. They won 53 regular-season games. Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, Kirill Kaprizov, and Mats Zuccarello all hit the 20-goal mark. But against a Blues team with even more depth, Minnesota’s depth went missing. Fiala, Foligno, and Hartman were all held goalless over the six-game series.

The worst case over the past 25 years was the 2016-17 Blackhawks team that won 50 regular-season games and had six players reach 20 goals. They were swept in the first round by the Predators and mustered just three goals in the four games.


Going into the playoffs last year, the Bruins were confident they had enough punch with Pastrnak (40 goals), Marchand (32), Bergeron (25), DeBrusk (25), and Hall (20). That group accounted for 56 percent of the team’s 253 goals in the regular season.

To an extent, they did deliver. The Bruins scored 20 goals over the course of a seven-game first-round series against the Hurricanes. Their five top goal-scorers lit the lamp 14 times. But they scored only six goals on the road. Marchand, the Bruins’ third all-time postseason goal-scorer, didn’t find the net in any of the four games in Raleigh.

Overall, the Bruins got the scoring they were looking for from the players they were counting on, but they didn’t get it on the road when they needed to close out the series. They lost Game 7, 3-2.

This year, the Bruins are confident that they’ll be able to turn to any number of options for a score.

“I think that’s the biggest reason why we’re winning is our depth throughout the whole year,” DeBrusk said. “It’s one of those things where it’s been really exciting to be part of and you can tell by the way we play.

“We have the ultimate belief that somebody will do it. We don’t need a hero. We’ve got guys that are Olympic champions, Stanley Cup champions, obviously great leaders, but we know that we don’t need to do that every single night. There’s going be times when it’s your turn.”


Julian Benbow can be reached at