Bruins head coach Claude Julien had a little surprise in store for the Bruins today at practice. After a rather painful 1-3 away trip,(with only six goals scored) the coach thought it was time to mix up the lines and try new ways to get production out of his players. Some players got moved up, some players got moved down, and Ryan Spooner got sent back to Providence. (The painful saga of the damaged third line claims another victim.) Here’s a quick look at the new line format”
First Line: Brad Marchand-David Krejci-Nathan Horton. Brad Marchand currently leads the team with thirteen goals, and is tied for second in points with David Krejci. Marchand has matured from a chippy, bratty player who could play hockey to a great shooter (23%) that takes a little time out during the game to really tick off the other team. We have seen #63 do a lot of special teams work this season, and the promotion is well deserved. This new configuration looks to bring more finesse to the line, and Marchand’s speed will definitely be an asset to the Bruins’ main line.
Second Line: Daniel Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin. Daniel Paille has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season. He has put in six goals so far this season, and the bump to the second line will only increase his chances. Paille has also seen an increased amount of work on special teams, and it reflects the coach’s confidence in him to see him get this promotion. He’s currently a +1, and that should only go up with his pairing with Seguin (+20) and Bergeron(+21). The second line has been the biggest producer for the Bruins so far this season. Thirty one goals, seventy three points and a combined +60. While I like Marchy on the first line, I had to wonder how hard it must have been for the coach to break up what has worked so well so far this season.
It looks like I wasn’t alone on that one. When asked why Julien would break up this particular line he responded directly. “It’s been a good line, absolutely. But you can’t win with one line, so we’re trying to get a spark from our team. And sometimes…as a coach, you make a change and that’s what I’m able to do. If it doesn’t work [then] it’s very easy to move guys around again or put lines together. It’s not a bad thing having those guys play with different players.”
Third Line: Milan Lucic-Rich Peverley-Jordan Caron. Milan Lucic has not been having a banner season to date. He’s fifth in overall points on the team, but has only put up four goals. Lucic’s physical game has also declined. (In my opinion, I think Looch lightened up due to the amount of ‘reputation’ penalties he has accrued this season. (He leads the team in PIM with fifty seven.) His +1 is also disappointing. Peverley , who got the ‘healthy scratch treatment’ in the last game against the Senators, will stay in place, and hopefully be motivated to improve. Jordan Caron is the latest in a series of attempts to make the third line work. I just hope he doesn’t get ‘Bourqued’ out and sent back to Providence.
Fourth Line: Jay Pandolfo-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton. Well, the NHL vet and former BU alumnus has been moved to the infamous Merlot Line. It looks like the job of keeping Soupy and Thorny out of jail has been passed on. It will balance out the PIM at least. (Pandolfo’s personal record for professional PIM is 24 with the Albany River Rats(AHL) in the ’97-’98 season.) Campbell and Thornton have produced for the B’s and having another experienced winger with Thornton should reap benefits here.
The coach was quickly asked by reporters why such a paradigm shift in the line make-up. Coach Julien was straight forward. “Because I can and because I’m the coach. When we have scored only 6 goals in the past 4 games, I think it’s time for a shake-up and every once in a while you have to do those things. It’s as simple as that.”
The Bruins will get to test out this new configuration tomorrow night. This time, the Leafs will come to the TD Garden to see if they can beat the Bruins again. The Bruins remain two points behind the Canadiens in the hunt for first place in the Northeast Division.