ST. PAUL, MN Claude Julien is searching for answers to his hockey teams recent offensive woes, and that meant doing some big league tinkering in the third period of Sundays shutout loss to the Minnesota Wild.
The Bs coach did something hes never really done before in Boston, sliding the struggling David Krejci over to the right wing on a line with Milan Lucic and center Chris Kelly. That meant the maddeningly inconsistent Benoit Pouliot was sitting on the pine as Julien shortened his bench, but Julien may have stumbled onto something he liked.
Its clear Bruins need something as theyve averaged 1.8 goals per game in the 11 games since Nathan Horton went down with a concussion, and now theyre missing the versatile Rich Peverley with a knee injury.
You try different things for the reasons that were missing some players. Were trying to find combinations that will give us some offense, said Julien. I thought Kelly has done pretty well with some guys that can score this year. I told Krejci to move to the right side and I thought they responded well. They did some good things.
Theres a good chance we may go back with that. Weve got a couple of days to look at things here, but its good to have some options here. The fourth line I put back together because youve got to find some consistency in your lineup. If you can find more lines that will give you consistent showings like that then youve got to stick with it.
The Bruins showed some offensive jump and more than a little urgency in piling up 22 shots in the final period of hockey, but still couldnt get a puck past Niklas Backstrom. Krejci snapped out of his scoreless February with a goal in Bostons shootout win over the Canadiens, but the pivot was certainly open to the change after managing just one point and a minus-8 in nine games this month.
Krejci was also struggling mightily with five face-off wins in 16 tries against the Wild, so shifting Kelly to center allowed the Czech Republic playmaker to concentrate a little more on the offensive side of the puck.
We had some chances. Kelly is a great player and he does a lot of the little things right. I dont usually play the right wing, but I thought we played in their zone a lot, said Krejci. We had some good chances, but we need to find a way to score.
Its tough, but youve just got to keep going and believe in yourself and your teammates. Things will go my way again, you know? Both me and the team, were going through some tough times right now, but were going to make it work again. Its just a tough time right now. Our effort is there lately, but we cant find a way to get the puck in the net.
Whether Krejci stays on the right wing or Julien ultimately goes in a different direction (while Peter Chiarelli works diligently to find help via trades), its clear theyre turning over rocks looking for offensive answers.
The Black and Gold havent found them yet, but its encouraging that they keep searching as the losses and frustration levels continue to rise.