Krejci moved to right wing to spark struggling B's

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Krejci moved to right wing to spark struggling B's

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.

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.