Before Saturday’s game, the Boston coaching staff instructed Jay Pandolfo to be ready to play. After warmups, Pandolfo received confirmation that he would be in the lineup. Shawn Thornton would be a healthy scratch.
Pandolfo had been in suit and tie for the last four games. The Bruins won all four. In such cases, coaches usually don’t mess with their lineups.
But Saturday’s scenario — Pandolfo in, Thornton out — underscored how Claude Julien considers his opponents when making out his lineup.
Julien prefers to roll four lines, especially in back-to-back situations. (The Bruins host Montreal Sunday night at TD Garden.)
Guy Boucher, Julien’s Tampa Bay counterpart, doesn’t feel the same way. Boucher is swift to double-shift Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier to squeeze every last drop of offensive juice from his star forwards.
Julien had two factors in play. He bumped up Daniel Paille to the third line in place of Chris Bourque. That way, Julien had three two-way lines that could skate against any of Tampa’s forwards.
At the same time, Julien wanted a more defensively responsible player to skate alongside Bourque and Gregory Campbell on the fourth line. Also, the Lightning do not have a go-to enforcer, although B.J. Crombeen can fight when necessary.
“You take a guy like Thorny out, you do lose some toughness,” said Julien. “But we’ve got some other guys that can still do the job.
“What we were trying to do is get a balance with Paisey on the third line. It allowed me to play any one of those three lines against those top two. They utilize those guys a lot.
“When you’ve got back-to-back games, you’ve got to make sure you don’t overtax your players. That gave us three good lines.
“I thought even the Campbell line did a pretty good job as well. We had a little bit more balance. Those are opportunities for us to get some of those guys in our lineup and move players around.”
It’s yet to be determined whether Thornton will be a healthy scratch for a second straight game. Canadiens Brandon Prust and Ryan White are quick to fight when necessary. Montreal coach Michel Therrien prefers to play four lines.
New line of work
Paille had played mostly on the fourth line in the four previous games. But for occasional stretches this season, Julien has given Paille shifts on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. Against Tampa, Julien gave Paille a full game on the No. 3 line, and he responded. The left wing (17 shifts, 10:51 of ice time) assisted on Peverley’s tying goal. Paille is a faster straight-line skater than Bourque. Paille’s speed complements his linemates’ wheels. “Danny’s a good skater,” Julien said. “He forechecks well. He’s a former first-round pick. He’s a pretty good hockey player. He’s a guy who’s capable of moving up and playing in those kinds of spots.”
Gloves come off
The Bruins entered Saturday’s game enjoying a prolonged period of peace. They hadn’t fought in seven straight games. That streak ended against the Lightning. In the first period, with the Bruins down, 2-0, Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves with Pierre-Cedric Labrie. After a whistle, McQuaid jostled with Keith Aulie. Labrie stepped in to engage McQuaid. The two participated in an even fight. At 4:44 of the second, after the Bruins tied the game at 2-2, Crombeen tangled with Campbell. The fourth-line center hung in against the bigger and more experienced Crombeen.
At 14:21 of the third period, Brendan Mikkelson high-sticked Milan Lucic in the face. Lucic dropped his stick and hit the deck. Mikkelson was called for a high-sticking double minor. The Bruins scored the winning goal with Mikkelson in the box. Lucic, however, was more incensed by an opponent’s mouth than Mikkelson’s stick. Lucic said one of the Tampa players accused him of diving. He declined to identify the player. Lucic appeared to be jawing with rookie Cory Conacher after the play. “I didn’t like that at all,” Lucic said. “He knows who he is. I’m glad we were able to beat them where it hurts the most.”
The Bruins battle Montreal Sunday night for the second time this season. The teams are in a dogfight for first place in the Northeast Division. Tuukka Rask, who backed up Anton Khudobin Saturday, should be in goal for the sixth time in the last seven games. “It’s going to be a really good game,” Julien said. “They’re playing really well. They’re moving the puck, they’re scoring goals, offensively they’re good, the goaltender is playing well. You’ve got a lot of the same things going for them right now that we do.” . . . Ex-Bruin Benoit Pouliot left in the first period because of an upper-body injury. Dennis Seidenberg belted Pouliot into the wall and was called for boarding . . . Seidenberg replaced Bourque on the No. 2 power-play unit in the third period. Bourque played a season-low 7:17.