If the lines that Bruins coach Claude Julien rolled out for Sunday morning’s practice at TD Garden are the same ones he’ll use for Monday night’s game against the visiting Maple Leafs, Milan Lucic no longer will be part of the first line.
Following a four-game road trip in which the Bruins went 1-3 and scored just six goals, Julien shuffled the deck and rolled out four completely new threesomes, sending Lucic back to the third line with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron while Brad Marchand assumed Lucic’s spot on the top line with David Krejci and Nathan Horton.
Daniel Paille moved up from the fourth line to join Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, while Jay Pandolfo took Paille’s spot alongside Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
Julien said the moves all could be temporary, but something needed to change after the Bruins outshot the Maple Leafs Saturday night, 33-13, yet lost, 3-2.
“Because I can,” Julien said when asked why he decided to shake things up. “Because I’m the coach. And every once in a while you have to do those things. It’s as simple as that.”
Bergeron, who has eight goals and 18 assists with a plus-21 differential this season, was asked if he was disappointed that Marchand, who is leading the team with 13 goals, may no longer be playing alongside him.
“There’s nothing you can do,” Bergeron said. “It’s about doing it for the team. That’s what Claude feels it’s time for, so there’s nothing you can say about it.”
Lucic has just four goals in 29 games. Horton has one goal in his last 13 games.
“Obviously, we lost three out of four games, so we’ll change it up a little bit and hopefully that’s going to help,” Krejci said. “I think we looked good out there this morning. Obviously, we don’t have much chemistry, particularly with March or Looch with the other line, or Paille with Bergy’s line. But I thought we looked pretty good this morning, so hopefully it’s going to work tomorrow.”
The wild card could be Paille, the 28-year-old winger who has spent most of his career between Buffalo and Boston fluctuating between third and fourth lines but has been a bright spot as part of the Bruins’ grinding fourth unit.
“He’s just a guy that skates well, and when he skates well he makes things happen,” Julien said. “The question mark is you break that [fourth] line. It’s been a good line, absolutely. But you can’t win with one line. So we’re trying to get a spark out of our team.”
The speedy Paille, paired with Seguin and Bergeron, creates a line that could be as fast as any in the NHL. But Bergeron said that Paille, who has six goals and five assists this year but has never potted more than 19 goals in a season, brings more than just quick feet.
“I think a lot of times he’s underestimated,” Bergeron said. “People think he’s a fourth-line player but he’s not. He has a nose for the net as well. He’s a smart guy with the puck and defensively he’s very sound. Those are a lot of things that can help our line, we just need to find some chemistry together.”
According to multiple reports, the Bruins made an offer for veteran Stars winger Brenden Morrow, only to see him agree to waive his no-trade clause Sunday to join the Penguins.
At 34, Morrow is no longer considered a top-six winger by most general managers, but he could have helped the Bruins’ attack.
Tuukka Rask came to his own defense when asked about his play between the pipes recently, which resulted in consecutive losses against the Penguins and Jets last week.
Backup Anton Khudobin got the next two starting nods, though he was replaced after allowing three goals on 11 shots Saturday night.
Rask was asked if his confidence took a hit while sitting on the bench.
“Well, we’ll see,” said Rask, 26, who is 14-4-3 with a .928 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average. “I like to play every game, but I didn’t take it too personally. I played good those two games. Tough losses there, letting in two goals against Pittsburgh and Winnipeg and we lose the games.
“But I wasn’t awful, so it shouldn’t break my confidence.”
Rask is expected to get the start Monday night.
Spooner sent down
Ryan Spooner, the 21-year-old center who was called up to the Bruins when Krejci got hurt and registered 15:29 of ice time in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Winnipeg, was returned to Providence. Julien said Spooner played well between Lucic and Horton, but he didn’t quite fit in when slotted back on the third line with Peverley and Pandolfo. Spooner saw just 7:14 of ice time Saturday night.
“It was a big step for him,” Julien said. “I thought he did pretty well with the right wingers around him. But then Krejci came back and on a different line, the experience was what was lacking with him there as we move forward.
“We often got caught in our own end when his line was on the ice. But skill level and everything else, we see it in practice, was really good.”
Johnny Boychuk, nursing a right foot injury that kept him out of Saturday night’s game, did not practice Sunday. Julien said the defenseman is still day-to-day . . . Also missing Adam McQuaid, Julien was pleased with the efforts of fill-in blue liners Aaron Johnson and Matt Bartkowski in Saturday night’s game . . . The Bruins spent the first 15 minutes of practice using wrong-handed sticks. It was a comical scene that Julien designed, hoping it would lighten the mood. “Ironically, we scored more goals [in the drill] than we did the whole road trip, so maybe tomorrow righties will play left and lefties will play right,” Julien joked.