May 18th, 2013 by

Julien faced with tough decision on Bruins blue-line

Julien faced with tough decision on Bruins blue-line

Claude Julien has dealt with many tough decisions during his six-year tenure as Bruins head coach. He’s about to encounter another one with the potential return of Wade Redden, who skated during Saturday’s practice in preparation for the B’s Game 2 matchup with the New York Rangers.

With injuries to Redden, Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg, the trio of Matt Bartkowski, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton all filled in nicely in the Game 1 overtime victory Thursday night. Krug scored a game-changing goal early in the third period to tie the game at 2-2 – on the power play – while Bartkowski was solid on both ends of the ice and Hamilton played his best game of the playoffs. But one of those three on the Bruins blue-line will likely sit if Redden suits up Sunday afternoon at the TD Garden.

Both Hamilton and Bartkowski have a couple of playoff games under their belt. So if Julien uses the experience logic, then Krug will likely be the odd man out. After two solid games in a row, Bartkowski is pretty much a shoe-in for Game 2, which means the Bruins bench boss will decide between Krug and Hamilton if it gets to that.

Hamilton certainly has the size advantage, and provides the Bruins with a little more strength. Krug, however, made quite the case for himself in Game 1, and got some praise from Julien during Saturday’s press conference.

“[He’s] a guy that is getting stronger every year,” Julien said. “The first year you come into the league – Dougie Hamilton is a great example of that; as tall as he is, he realizes that he has to get stronger every year, which will make him a better player. Torey’s no different when it comes to that. With the experience and getting stronger, it’s allowed him to be better in those battles. The experience is also how to handle those battles in the corners and not get burned. Playing a lot has helped him become a better player.”

The same defensive units from Game 1 were still in tact for most of practice Saturday. But Redden did get some time with Chara and Adam McQuaid – switching spots with Hamilton and Krug – in his return to the ice. The only pairing that stayed the same from Thursday was Bartkowski and Johnny Boychuk.

Many were surprised when Redden took the final spot on the Bruins’ D to start the playoffs. Even though he’s only tallied two points (a goal and an assist), the 35-year old is a plus-2 and has averaged over 15 minutes per night in five games against the Maple Leafs.

Seidenberg is unlikely to return for Game 2 according to Julien, while Ference is still dealing with a lower body injury. So at least for the time being, you’ll see two of Hamilton, Bartkowski or Krug. The question, if it comes to it, is who’s going to be the odd man out?

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