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Bruins notebook

These three have been big

Lucic, Krejci, Horton a nice combination

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / October 28, 2010

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WILMINGTON — Line combinations, like a politician’s campaign promises, are made to be broken. The Bruins’ top-scoring trio of Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton has been together for the better part of three weeks, which doesn’t put them in the express lane to the Hall of Fame, but it has been a fast track to success thus far.

It’s working, said Lucic, because the linemates are moving the puck, playing hard, and moving their feet.

“You feel good being out there with one another,’’ said Lucic, who is 3-3—6 headed into tonight’s matchup against the Maple Leafs at the Garden. “Like today in practice, just during line drills, you could see we were all smiling, just happy to play together again.

“I think that is the biggest thing — we are really having a lot of fun together. It’s what we have to keep doing.’’

In six games, they have collected 9 goals and 22 points. They have also amassed 43 shots, an average of seven per game. Lucic is the big-bodied left winger who can open up space for Krejci, the slick-handed center, to dish off his velvety passes. Horton is the hard-charging right winger, not timid about getting into the areas around the net where defensemen are paid to act like nightclub bouncers. So far, no one is tossing them out of the party.

“It’s crazy — the two guys I’m skating with are so talented,’’ said Horton, the ex-Panther who was liberated from Sunrise, Fla., in the offseason in the deal that sent Dennis Wideman to Florida. “Looch can skate so fast, and [Krejci] is so smart with the puck.’’

Horton figures the biggest difference in his game since arriving here is that he is shooting more. In six games, he has landed 15 shots, a pace that would bring him 205 over an 82-game season. In his last two seasons with Florida, he averaged 145 shots and 66 games.

“You always have to be ready,’’ said Horton, noting that he has learned to be ever-ready for those Krejci feeds. “He always sees you. It’s a matter of him having the puck, and he always sees you.’’

“They’re both smart players,’’ added Krejci. “I always try to find them, and so far it’s working.’’

Which way for Seguin?
Tyler Seguin, the pride of suburban Toronto, will be in the lineup for the first time against his hometown Blue-and-White. It will be Seguin’s seventh NHL game, and the Bruins must decide prior to his 10th game whether the speedy freshman will stay in the Hub or go back to his junior squad for the remainder of 2010-11.

The bet here: Seguin remains in the Hub of Hockey. Don’t be surprised, in fact, if the front office makes his residence official, possibly as early as today and certainly prior to Saturday’s game in Ottawa.

Following yesterday’s workout, coach Claude Julien cleverly sidestepped a question about whether the 18-year-old would be headed back. A question better answered by the front office, said the coach.

“I rack my mind with line combinations,’’ said Julien, “and they can rack their mind with that.’’

Thus far, Julien has used Seguin regularly but sparingly as a fourth-line center. He skated yesterday on a line that featured Mark Recchi on left wing and Michael Ryder/Danny Paille on the right. In six games, Seguin has collected 3 and is a minus-2. Ryder (minus-3) is the only other minus player on the roster. Seguin is averaging 13:25 of ice time per game.

In the unlikely event that Seguin is booted back to juniors, he would likely average 6-7 more minutes in ice time as a first-line center and first-unit power-play contributor. His minutes aren’t likely to change here soon, or at least until Marc Savard recovers from lingering concussion symptoms. Once Savard is back, Seguin likely moves to a wing spot, which would relieve him of some defensive responsibilities and perhaps put him on one of the top two lines.

Something must give
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he hopes to “get ahead’’ of salary cap concerns related to the expected returns of Marco Sturm and Savard from injuries.

Noting that he attended games Monday in Montreal and Tuesday in Ottawa, each time with Phoenix the opponent, Chiarelli said, “I’ve got to do something at some point. I’ve got to get ahead of it and look at stuff.’’

Question becomes, who goes? The most tradeable parts on the Boston roster, considering their cap hits, contracts, and overall value, are Krejci and Blake Wheeler.

Given that Krejci currently centers the No. 1 line, it’s highly unlikely that he would be traded — even if he is essentially filling Savard’s role at the moment. Wheeler would be the far more logical move. If he were dealt, then Seguin likely would move into his slot on one of the top two lines.

Whose turn?
No word from Julien on whether tonight’s starter in net will be Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask. Given that Rask was in net for Saturday’s loss to the Rangers, it’s a good bet that Thomas (4-0-0, 0.75 GAA) gets the call . . . Adam McQuaid will be in the lineup for the first time this season, filling the void that opened when it was learned Sunday that Johnny Boychuk (cracked forearm) will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks . . . Brian McGrattan is still waiting for his Black-and-Gold debut. The Leafs have the kind of muscle (i.e. Colton Orr) that could lead Julien to bring in his 6-foot-4-inch strongman . . . Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel, Toronto’s leading scorer (7-2—9) will be looking for his first point on Causeway Street since the 2008-09 season. He went 0 for Boston in three visits last season. The 23-year-old Kessel no doubt will have to navigate around Zdeno Chara every time he gets on the ice . . . In a win over Florida Tuesday, Kessel skated on a line with Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin, who took Kris Versteeg’s wing. Versteeg, swapped out of the Boston organization for Brandon Bochenski, skated with Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at dupont@globe.com.

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