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Line combinations aren't locked up

"Day Off. No Treatment. Stay Home."

Such was the writing on the dressing room wall following the Bruins' 1-1 tie Saturday night with the Flyers. While the rest of New England began to dig out from winter's first blanket, the Bruins pulled up the covers and enjoyed a day of rest prior to the Senators arriving on Fleet Street tonight.

The offday allowed coach Mike Sullivan and his staff some extra hours to contemplate line combinations against the offensively-gifted Senators. Sullivan kept his customary No. 1 line intact Saturday, with Joe Thornton centering Mike Knuble and Glen Murray, but he tinkered with his other three trios, and also with the makeup of the power play.

"I felt like we needed a spark," said Sullivan, who needs to get more consistent offensive pop from gifted winger Sergei Samsonov. "We're going to explore different combinations, until we find ones we really like. Sometimes you stumble on them by accident, and they can turn out to be dynamic lines."

For the most part, Sullivan stocked the rest of the lines like so: Travis Green between Rob Zamuner and Martin Lapointe; Brian Rolston the pivot for Samsonov and Patrice Bergeron (who assisted on Samsonov's power-play goal Saturday against the Flyers); Ted Donato between newcomer Patrick Leahy and Sandy McCarthy.

Mixing and matching probably won't mean breaking up the Seven-Hundred-Pound Line that Thornton centers. But keep in mind: ex-coach Robbie Ftorek stumbled across that line last year. Who's to know what Sullivan might stumble across if he put everyone's name in a hat?

Snow plowers

The ticket sales were 16,685 for Saturday night and the no-show rate was about 1 out 3 for the snowy night. Gritty stock, Bruins fans, to turn out in those numbers on a treacherous evening. No doubt there will be a few calls to the box office today, though, from fans who were either unable or unwilling to brave the elements . . . NESN hosts Tom Caron and Rick Middleton remained in the station's warm-and-toasty Fenway studios for the Bruins broadcast Saturday, and each donned knit caps and gloves on air for the later stages of the show. No word on who removed the snow from their cars and started the engines . . . The Senators are back Dec. 30 for the final home game of 2003.

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