Defense first: Julien breaks up Jagr-Seguin-Marchand

Defense first: Julien breaks up Jagr-Seguin-Marchand
April 7, 2013, 12:30 am
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MONTREAL – After a morning at the Bell Centre full of giddy conversation about Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand skating on a line with 41-year-old future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, it took exactly two shifts for Bruins coach Claude Julien to break up the good times.

With the Bruins down 1-0 and Seguin struggling to hold down the fort in the defensive end as the Montreal Canadiens attacked in wave after wave, Julien dropped Jagr down to a line with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. Julien also elevated Rich Peverley to center in between Marchand and Seguin to stabilize the team defensively, and avoid getting Boston into too big of a hole early in the game.

Unfortunately that move seemed to take away all of their offensive oomph as two of Boston’s biggest offensive performers, Seguin and Marchand, were held without a single shot on net in the Bruins' 2-1 loss Saturday night.

“This is a big game and [Montreal] is a good team that’s very good in the offensive zone,” said Julien. “I don’t think Tyler was ready for that. So I had to put a centerman there with some experience, and put [Seguin] back on the wing. I thought [Jagr] had a good night with Campbell and Paille, two guys that work hard. I thought it stabilized three lines, but one line didn’t give us much.

“The other two were pretty good. But with the injuries we have, you need a little bit more. You need everybody to step up here and we didn’t have enough of that tonight.”

That part of the plan worked as the Habs only scored one goal through the rest of the game at the raucous Bell Centre. But the newly configured lines generated little offense.

Jagr was fine with the move down to a line with a couple of bottom-six grinders -- "We’ve got good enough players that anybody can play with anybody. It’s up to the coach how we’re going to do it. I don’t have any problem with anybody." -- but did have a special request when skating with Campbell and Paille . . . or anybody else, for that matter.

“As long as they give me the puck then I’m okay,” said Jagr, with a big smile. “I want the puck on the stick all of the time. I’m always open.”

The good news is that Chris Kelly hopes to be back at some point next week, and that will give Julien more options to piece together a lineup with Kelly’s defense, faceoff ability and respectable offensive game making for a nice match with any number of players. But the hope is that Jagr can also be paired with higher-end skill forwards in the immediate future, as forwards like Campbell and Paille seemed to have a difficult time capitalizing on the crisp passes that the 41-year-old right winger was sending their way against Montreal.