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Julien tries a line change

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / October 20, 2011

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Even with a Jack Adams Trophy and a Stanley Cup ring in his possession, Claude Julien isn’t wise enough to know whether the changes he made in practice yesterday will create the results he wants in tonight’s game.

Nathan Horton, usually the first-line right wing, was wearing the gold practice jersey of the No. 2 line along with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

Chris Kelly, the third-line center, was in the white jersey that usually belongs to first-liner David Krejci. Kelly was flanked by Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin.

Rich Peverley, who had been Bergeron’s right wing for the first six games, alternated shifts with Krejci on the third line between Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot. Only the fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton was untouched.

A 2-4-0 start, a shameful absence of cool in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Carolina, and an 11th-place berth in the Eastern Conference will lead to such alterations.

“I wish I could stand here and pretend I’m a genius,’’ Julien said. “But you know what? I don’t know what I’m going to get. What I know is that what I was getting before wasn’t enough.’’

From the start of the season, the Bruins have been preaching patience. They acknowledged that the Stanley Cup hangover was real. It could show up early - as it seemingly has - or manifest itself later in the year.

But the latest loss highlighted too many ills that could torpedo the season if not corrected. Aside from Marchand and Bergeron, the Bruins are getting little from their go-to players.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in that room that can put their arm up and say, ‘Listen, I’m at my best right now,’ ’’ Julien said. “So we’re fighting through it together.’’

The most culpable have been Horton and Lucic, whose hiccups have made them first-line wingers in theory only. Both forwards play best when angry. On Tuesday, their frustration buried their team’s best chance at a third-period rally.

Thirty-one seconds after Peverley scored a power-play goal to make it a 2-1 game, Horton believed Carolina’s Tim Gleason wanted to fight. Though Gleason kept his gloves on and declined to engage, Horton rag-dolled the defenseman and shoved him to the ice. Horton was tagged with a roughing double minor and a 10-minute misconduct.

“I just thought he wanted to,’’ said Horton (1-1-2, six shots). “He turned around and slashed me. I turned around and he was right there. He was looking at me the whole time. I thought he nodded his head.

“It’s my fault. I can’t be taking penalties like that.’’

Lucic, Horton’s good friend and former linemate, blew his top, too. At 16:16 of the third, after Carolina had grabbed a 4-1 lead, Lucic tangled with Gleason after a whistle. Lucic was tagged with a 10-minute misconduct, which led to Julien’s dismissal.

Lucic has zero goals and one assist. The left wing has been instructed to reclaim his hard-hat style instead of fancying himself a skilled forward.

“Sometimes I’m focusing too much on finding my linemates and I’m stopping my feet instead of going with the puck forward,’’ Lucic said. “I just need to get back to chipping and going and being hard to play against. I guess being that train up and down the wall that I know I can be. That’s something I’ve got to get back to. I know I’m helping my team the most when I’m doing that.’’

Krejci is ‘50-50’

If it were Krejci’s call, his availability for tonight’s game against Toronto would be a coin flip.

“We’ll see. I guess it’s 50-50,’’ he said. “I’ve been making pretty good progress each day.’’

Yesterday at TD Garden, Krejci participated in his first practice since suffering a core injury last Tuesday. He made it through the entire session, then remained on the ice for extra work after most of his teammates had departed for the dressing room.

“I would love to be back in the game,’’ Krejci said. “But on the other hand, I’ve got to be smart about it, too.’’

If Krejci is unavailable tonight, it would mark the fourth straight game he will miss. Peverley would center the third line if Krejci can’t go.

McQuaid stalled

On Tuesday, Adam McQuaid participated in the morning skate, but he was absent for warm-ups and missed his second straight game because of a neck injury.

It appears McQuaid will miss at least a third tonight because of a setback in his recovery.

McQuaid didn’t practice yesterday. Julien didn’t reveal the nature of McQuaid’s symptoms, which previously included headaches and neck pain. But Julien acknowledged the team is pulling back on the reins.

“We’re dealing with it as a concussion,’’ Julien said. “He’s gone through a bunch of protocol that he’s passed. The end decision belongs to the player. I’m not saying it’s all his. But the last decision will belong to him.

“Doctors can clear him all they want. If I don’t feel he’s ready to go and he doesn’t quite feel 100 percent, then you make that decision. It’s one of those things where I’ve always given the player, as a coach, the last call on everything.’’

Kampfer closer

Steven Kampfer participated in contact in practice yesterday for the first time since suffering his knee injury Sept. 29. Kampfer, who hasn’t played in the regular season yet, could be a game-time decision tonight, said Julien . . . Joe Corvo didn’t report any ill effects from the hit he took in Tuesday’s first period. Corvo, who collided with Carolina’s Brett Sutter and sailed into the boards, absorbed most of the impact in his right shoulder and neck. “I’m good,’’ Corvo said. “Just a couple bruises.’’ . . . The Bruins emphasized net-front presence and crashing the crease in practice yesterday. They are averaging a league-worst 1.67 goals per game. “It’s not physical right now. It’s mental,’’ Julien said. “I think we’re being challenged mentally.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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