BOSTON — In Game 4, coach Claude Julien shuffled his top two lines — shifting Tyler Seguin with Milan Lucic and David Krejci and Rich Peverley with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand — in hopes of creating more offense for his Boston Bruins. That result did not pay dividends, however, as the Washington Capitals tied the best-of-seven first round series at two games apiece with their 2-1 victory Thursday night.
At practice Friday, Julien took it a step further with his line changes.
Hoping to shake things up a little bit, Julien moved Brian Rolston up to the first line with Krejci and Lucic from his original spot with Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kelly on the third line. Tyler Seguin, who had been a staple for most of the season on the second line with Bergeron and Marchand, was moved down to the third line with Pouliot and Kelly, while Marchand was reunited on the merlot line (aka line four) with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell for the first time since the midway point of the 2010-11 regular season. Daniel Paille, who’s skated with Campbell and Thornton on that merlot line, is now with Bergeron and Peverley on the second line.
For some, this could have raised a warning flag as a panic move this late into the series. That was downplayed by the Bruins, however.
“When things aren’t going too well, you need to switch things up a bit,” Pouliot said before Saturday’s Game 5. “Sometimes you have to mix it up and we’ll see how things go today. Who knows if it is going to stay that way or not, but we need to try to make it work.”
Despite having two new linemates in Bergeron and Peverley, Paille isn’t planning to change things up and stick to what he did best on the merlot line.
“For me, I think I have to stay the same way, especially in the playoffs here,” said Paille, who has one goal through the first four games of the series. “I find in the past I tend to change a little too much and kind of get off my game. It’s best that I stay with what I’m doing best right now and keep that up.”
When down 2-0 last year, Julien didn’t switch things up with his 12 forwards — despite cries from fans for not inserting Seguin into the lineup — but rather changed things up in the back end and paired Zdeno Chara with Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk with Andrew Ference. Those pairings were crucial during the team’s Stanley Cup run.
This year, Julien is hoping for a spark from his 12 forwards that have only netted eight goals through the first four games on Caps rookie goaltender Braden Holtby. But like the Montreal series, the Bruins bench boss isn’t panicking just yet.
“I think the outside is overreacting to stuff,” Julien said after practice yesterday. “This is a 2-2 series right now. We’re not down. It’s tied.
“We’ve done a lot of good things [but] at the end of the day we just haven’t scored. That’s the only major issue right now that we have is the fact that we are not scoring.”
Regardless to the changes up front, it is up to the Black and Gold to respond.
Otherwise, they could be put on the brink going into Game 6 Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center.
“I think we understand the message clearly. For us, we are going to have to get a better effort from everybody,” Paille said. “It’s not one or two guys; it’s the whole room that needs to improve. We had a good practice yesterday from Claude and we have the message and we know what do do. So, we just have to go out there and show it.”