In quick fix, Sturm is moved to No. 1 line
DETROIT - Fittingly, after yesterday’s afternoon practice at Joe Louis Arena, Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm sat next to each other at their stalls in the visiting team’s dressing room and ate lunch.
Yesterday, for the first time this season, Bergeron and Sturm were on the same line, practicing with Mark Recchi on the No. 1 threesome.
“Obviously we have to score more goals,’’ said Sturm, whose team was blanked by the Rangers Sunday, 1-0. “Me and Bergy have played together for a long time. So we’re mixing things up and see if we can score more goals.’’
Since his arrival from San Jose in the Joe Thornton blockbuster Nov. 30, 2005, Sturm had been a perpetual partner for Bergeron. The pair, with Brad Boyes and Chuck Kobasew seeing time on the right side, played in all situations. But 11 games into 2008-09, after the duo flickered early, coach Claude Julien busted them up and didn’t reunite them until Dec. 18. That night, Sturm, playing in his first game since Nov. 17 (he’d been shelved because of concussion-like symptoms), tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee and didn’t play again in 2008-09.
By dropping Brad Marchand to the third line, Julien is hoping Sturm’s speed and experience playing with Bergeron can bring some scoring punch to the top threesome (Recchi is the right wing).
“Sturmy’s always been better with Bergy,’’ Julien said.
Julien also reassembled last year’s No. 2 line: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Michael Ryder. The three forwards skated together for the first five games of this season, but had been split up since then. Most recently, Krejci had centered Sturm and Recchi, Wheeler had been with Vladimir Sobotka and Daniel Paille, and Ryder had been Bergeron’s right wing with Marchand on the left side.
Last year, Krejci was usually the catalyst, helping to bring out the offensive games of any wingmen who jumped on board. But Krejci (1-4 -5) has not been his usual playmaking self this year.
“It wasn’t the same,’’ Krejci said of their play earlier this season compared to 2008-09’s chemistry. “Hopefully we’ll be better this time.’’
Sobotka centered Paille and Marchand yesterday. Trent Whitfield, Steve Begin, and Shawn Thornton made up the fourth line.
“The guys that we’re talking about coming back, they’re not coming back for a long time,’’ said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “We’re either getting going without them or we’re not going. That’s just the facts. You look at Boston’s lineup, it’s much like ours that way. They’ve got some high-end guys that are out. No one cares. You’ve just got to find a way to survive and win.’’
Lucic has been skating on his own. Savard is scheduled to shed the boot from his left foot this week.
“Best passer in the league on the half-wall,’’ said Derek Morris. “Joe Thornton’s close. But Savvy, he can pass it cross-ice over three sticks and land it flat. You think, ‘Oh, he got lucky.’ But he does it 60 times a year. He’s the best passer, bar none. Best passer in the league. He knows what he’s doing before he gets the puck. As soon as he gets it, he’s throwing it to where the guy’s going to be.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.