Julien pushed to the breaking-up point
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ No. 2 line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi had been together for more than two months. The team’s longest-lasting trio survived that long for good reason. It created scoring chances, played defense, and was the most consistent and reliable of coach Claude Julien’s lines.
But yesterday, Julien busted up the second line. Recchi was dropped to the third line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. Rich Peverley, switched from left to right wing, was promoted to the second line alongside Marchand and Bergeron.
Compared with the power line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton, Bergeron’s threesome hadn’t been as dangerous around the net. Lucic scored the only goal in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Montreal.
“A little tweak here and there,’’ said Julien. “Right now, we’re getting Krejci’s line producing for us. The other two lines have been a little bit quiet.
“That could change midway through the game. Mark has good chemistry with Bergy. Right now, we’re separating those two for no other reason than we think that Mark can bring something to that other line. And maybe Peverley’s going to bring something to Bergeron’s line.
The second line should get quicker by swapping Peverley for Recchi. But the switch will take away from the third line’s faceoff options. Julien liked having the lefthanded-shooting Kelly and the righthanded-shooting Peverley on the same line.
Drilling for goals When he assesses the power play, Julien sees his three primary point men — Tomas Kaberle, Zdeno Chara, and Dennis Seidenberg — holding the blue line effectively, distributing the puck, and getting open for shots.
Now, Julien wants his forwards to catch up.
The major reason the power play is 0 for 16 in the last seven games is lack of touch around the net. To that end, the Bruins practiced five-on-four and five-on-three rushes yesterday to reinforce good down-low habits.
“We feel that our power play at the top has been a lot better since Kaberle’s come in,’’ Julien said. “We’re creating shots and getting better puck movement up there. Now we’re trying to work on the low part of the power play.
“Teams are obviously focusing on us up top. At the same time, we’ve got to be a little hungrier around the net, jamming the net, and jumping on loose pucks. We’re getting scoring chances, but we’re not getting goals.’’
First skate for Ference Andrew Ference, missing the last five games because of a lower-body injury, skated at Ristuccia Arena yesterday prior to practice. It was Ference’s first skate since he was injured Feb. 26 against Vancouver. Ference was felled when Victor Oreskovich drilled him into the end boards at Rogers Arena. Ference will skate again this morning. If all goes well, said Julien, he could participate in the morning skate, but he will not play tonight.
Kampfer improving Steven Kampfer, who suffered a concussion last Thursday against Tampa Bay, worked out on a stationary bike yesterday. Julien said there’s a chance Kampfer could skate this morning. He will miss his third straight game tonight . . . Had Chara been suspended, the Bruins would have been digging deep into their AHL depth chart. Possible call-ups could have been Boris Valabik or Colby Cohen. Andrew Bodnarchuk is serving a suspension. The Bruins knew they were testing their depth by trading Mark Stuart to Atlanta. Shane Hnidy is still at least a week away from being game-ready . . . Johnny Boychuk’s left eye was red and nearly swollen shut yesterday. Ryan White got the better of Boychuk in a first-period scrap Tuesday . . . Even before word came down that Chara would not be suspended, the Bruins knew he wouldn’t be banned for more than five games. Because the disciplinary hearing took place via phone, Chara was facing a five-game maximum suspension. Had a preliminary review indicated that a suspension of six or more games was warranted, the hearing would have taken place in person in Toronto . . . Today is Tuukka Rask’s 24th birthday.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.