The Boston Bruins are still in second place in the Atlantic Division. But they’ve only have eleven games left in the regular season, and they’re not out of the woods yet. Tampa Bay is only one point behind them, and a final position in the playoffs has yet to be guaranteed. The Boston Bruins need every player playing at 100 percent, and coach Claude Julien has had to make some moves to spark that production, especially among the bottom six forwards.
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“I think right now that line hasn’t done much for us,” said head coach Claude Julien of the line centered by Ryan Spooner. “There was obviously — you saw a switch today — and we need contributions from everybody.”
“For the most part, the Bergeron, the Krejci line, they produce, and that third line should be capable of producing with guys like Beleskey and Spooner and even Hayes, and they haven’t, so sometimes a little change is not a bad thing, so we’ll see what comes out of that.”
“It’s not always about the guy changing, more than you’re looking for a change from the line,” continued Julien. “So it doesn’t mean it’s Hayes’ fault but we’ve got an opportunity here to maybe put Conns on that line and again, I’m not set in stone as far as it being a for-sure situation, but it’s something I looked at today.”
Jimmy Hayes has been in a slump as of late. Hayes is now down on the third line with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. While he’s been relegated to the back six, he can be thankful he’s not in Brett Connolly‘s shoes. If Chris Kelly is able to make it back to the team by the end of the regular season, Connolly (like Hayes) could find themselves on the ninth level of the TD Garden watching the game instead of playing it.
When Lee Stempniak came over at the trade deadline, Julien moved a slumping Connolly(who hasn’t registered a point in his last four games) down to the fourth line with Landon Ferraro and Noel Acciari. Stempniak found some quick chemistry with Bruins top liners Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. While Stempniak’s addition has been a boon to the Bruins, it has also showed that there are players who aren’t putting up the points the B’s need. That facilitated Julien’s most recent shakeup among his bottom six forwards.
Connolly has taken the move in stride. He still wants to produce for a team that gave him a shot after he couldn’t really find his niche with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I guess they’re looking for a little bit of a spark out of those two lines, so should be good,” said Connolly of his move to the fourth line. “I think that those are two good players that I can hopefully mesh well with right away. I’ve played with those guys before so I kind of know their strengths and that.”
“We have to be ready.” said Connolly of the B’s upcoming weekend. “Two big teams that are having good seasons and that have beaten us this year, so we’ve got to bring our A-game,” said Connolly. “And hopefully we can scratch and claw some points out of these last two games here.”