BOSTON -- Claude Julien arched more than a few eyebrows with the jumbling of his forward lines in the wake of Patrice Bergeron’s absence.
In the interest of generating more offense, the Bruins coach placed fourth-line center Gregory Campbell between Boston’s top two goal-scorers, Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand, and dropped struggling center Rich Peverley between Shawn Thornton and Jordan Caron. He also moved Tyler Seguin to a third-line spot alongside Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille.
He wasn’t doing it to punish some of his players, as many overzealous fans probably assumed after watching the Bruins scrap for two total goals in two games against the Devils and Canadiens. Julien was instead spreading the forwards out to stabilize things both offensively and defensively, and it worked -- offensively, at least -- in a 6-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden Monday night.
“The scoring was spread out: who would’ve thought that Peverley, Caron and Thornton would’ve had two goals?" said Julien. "It was nice to see that line produce . . .
"We need that. For us, it was about carrying the momentum from line-to-line offensively and that happened tonight. There’s no doubt, we need to see that urgency to get ourselves better. Although defensively we weren’t very good, it was a step in the right direction of being a little bit better offensively. We’ve got to carry that into the next game, where it’s going to be even tougher against a Devils team that doesn’t give much.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the offensive revival of Peverley, who finished with a pair of points and scored the game’s first goal after taking it hard to the net in the first period. But Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg also combined for five points, as the Bruins defensemen pinched in order to keep sustained pressure.
Jagr and Marchand continued to build chemistry, and add points. Marchand notched the game’s second goal when he slammed home a rebounded off a Campbell wraparound chance. Later in that first period those two were at it again when Jagr tried the wraparound on which Dan Ellis was able to make the initial save, but once again Marchand was there to clean up the loose trash around the net.
“When he’s on the ice and he has the puck, you’ve got to have two or three guys on him and you can’t put one guy on him,” said Marchand, describing the sensation of playing with a future Hall of Famer like Jagr. “He’ll make a great play and in doing that he seems to be able to draw everyone to watch him and we kind of move around and get open. He’s not a guy that you really have to support. He’s so big and strong that he can outbattle one or two guys and there definitely is a little more space out there.”
Later in the third period, the top Bruins line also finally kicked in with some offense as Nathan Horton flipped home his 13th goal of the season -- and his fifth in the last seven games -- on a nice cross-ice pass from Dougie Hamilton.
That really underscored the depth of scoring as the three tinkered lines actually produced points, and the one left alone banked home one of its chances.
“I mean, it’s not just [one person],” said Thornton. “I think we’re a good team and we do it by committee, and we’ve said that for the last few years. It takes everyone to want to chip in . . .
“There are a lot of guys who could be stepping up as [Peverley] did tonight and try to make it a little easier for everyone else.”
One negative to all of the musical chairs at the forward spots: Seguin appears to be a forgotten man skating alongside guys like Paille and Kelly, who don’t have the offensive whereabouts to play with No. 19. Seguin finished with a single shot on net and two giveaways and was a virtual non-factor for the second straight game. Two days after Julien lit into him for not being able to handle things defensively in Montreal, the coach was a little more conciliatory Monday night to the franchise’s young trigger man.
Nothing is going to be perfect on the forward lines with Bergeron out of the lineup, but at least Julien’s tinkering seems to have resulted in balanced scoring, and full confidence on each forward line. Now it’s about finding some answers on defense.
Then maybe everybody can look out on the ice and recognize the Bruins team that won the Cup two years ago, a club built on depth among the forward lines that attack in wave after wave. They haven’t been that in quite a while, but six goals against a hapless Carolina club was a good start.