The healthy scratch. In hockey it is a term for a player who has been scratched from his team’s lineup prior to the game due to injury or a coach’s decision. That player may not dress for or participate in that game. It is usually used as a warning to veteran players that retirement is near. It has also been used on the younger players as a parental slap to the back of the head. (Coach Julien in fact did it to Tyler Seguin last season after Seguin missed a practice.) Other times, it’s used to let a player get their head into the game. (Julien did it this season with Chris Bourque.) Occasionally, a fourth liner who specializes in the more pugilistic aspects of the game will get scratched when they are playing a non-rival team, or their opponents are in a less physical, more skill based system.
On one side of the coin, the healthy scratch can be abused in the same way a bag skate is. The weapon of last resort when a coach has tried everything else and is forced to resort to more draconian measures. The other side of the coin is that it can easily drive a rift between players and coaches, sparking trade rumors and the like. ( The Habs PK Subban, Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, and the Capitals’ Alexander Semin are three recent examples.)I stated earlier that Coach Julien is not afraid of using the healthy scratch. Should he be using it more often though?
In Boston, we’ve had certain players that have met or exceeded expectations this season. Who would have thought Brad Marchand would be our leading scorer at this point in the season? (Editors Note: I DID!) I don’t think we were expecting Dougie Hamilton to have such a high hockey IQ and be able to play out of juniors at the skill level he has shown us. David Krejci is at the top of our points list, and I still think he’s one of the most under valued forwards in the league. Then there is Patrice Bergeron. That man can tie up an entire unit for the majority(in a few cases the entirety) of a penalty kill.
On the other end though, we’ve had a few players that haven’t met expectations. I’m not saying this just as a person who has a Bruins heavy roster in my fantasy league and is currently 1-2. I am saying it as a member of Bruins Nation who just wants to see the team win. Some of these players have been under performing and might need a parental slap in the back of the head. Using the Chris Bourque case as an example. Coach Julien scratched Bourque for the Buffalo game where we lost 7-4. Julien wanted Bourque to take a step back and take some of the pressure off him. It worked. Bourque scored his first goal as a Bruin (and the only goal) in the 1-0 victory over Toronto.
Maybe it’s time to give a Bruin or two a friendly nudge back into the cave for a game.