May 22nd, 2011 by

Top line looks to regain consistency

(Photo: Ikeastan/Bridget Samuels) The Bruins will need the top line of Milan Lucic (pictured), David Krejci and Nathan Horton to shake off their inconsistencies starting tomorrow night in Game 5

BOSTON — Though the Bruins have the right frame in mind going forward, it is all about execution at the end of the day. And though they have had some positives during the series, their negatives have also been seen.

For one – in the two losses – they haven’t been able to use all four lines effectively, especially the top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton in Game 4 (coming off a solid performance in Game 3).

While the trio has had some good moments during the playoffs – Horton with his two overtime winners and Krejci with his performance in the Philly series – they have also been shut down in the majority of the Bruins’ losses this postseason. Game 4 was no different as the three were a minus-5 combined and collectively only put two shots towards Tampa goaltenders Dwayne Roloson, who was pulled after Bergeron’s shorthanded goal at 17:58 of the first, and Mike Smith, who got the win in relief of Roloson.

In his Game 4 column in Sunday’s The Boston Globe, Kevin Paul Dupont suggested, among many things, that head coach Claude Julien break up the trio and put Patrice Bergeron, who has been by far and away the Bruins’ best forward, on the top line. As seen often, But Julien, as he often does, remains status quo about keeping Krejci, Lucic and Horton together.

“They’ve been a great line for us all year,” said the Bruins bench boss. “And there’s no doubt that in the playoffs sometimes there’s a little more at stake, so you’re looking at that line closer than you normally would and those fine details and the expectations are looked upon a little closer.

“We expect them to be a great line for us every night, so do they. Whether that happens or not is another thing. But what we want to see from them is trying to be the best they can every night, and that’s what we’re hoping they’re going to be tomorrow.”

On Sunday, Lucic didn’t have an answer to why his line is struggling. But he knows, much like the team, that they need to focus on the task in hand and doing what it takes to help the Bruins respond after their loss in Game 4.

“I wish I had an answer,” Lucic said about the inconsistency. “We’ve had some great games and we’ve had some not so great games. But right now is not a time to start asking questions. It just matters what we do tomorrow and if we can do some good things tomorrow then we need to do whatever we can to build off that.”

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