Line changes and line reunions spark B's to victory

Line changes and line reunions spark B's to victory
March 26, 2013, 12:00 am
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BOSTON -- When the Bruins' original lines are together, the players feel at home.

But Claude Julien tweaked those lines for Monday night's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He pointed out that the team needed an offensive spark.

He also pointed out that he can change the lines, well, because he can. He's the coach.

Having utilized this strategy several times in the past, even during a season in which the Bruins later went on to win a Stanley Cup, Julien has earned the right make that move and get away with it without much fuss.

And on cue, Milan Lucic broke a 15-game scoreless drought midway through the second period, while on his new line with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron.

"Milan was very good," said Julien after the Bruins' 3-2 shootout win. "After the first period, he got his feet going and made a big difference."

Lucic took a Peverley pass in the neutral zone and used his speed to bust down the right side of the ice past every Maple Leaf in sight. He cut hard in front of the net and slipped it five-hole, cutting Toronto's lead to 2-1.

"It was starting to get really frustrating going as long as I did without a goal," said Lucic after the win. "You try so many different things, you keep pushing and pushing and when things start not working, you start second guessing yourself. It was great play by Jordy [Jordan Caron] to beat the pinch there and Pevs [Rich Peverley] gave me the pass and I just wanted to take it to the net and was able to finish it off. My game is pretty simple so it doesn’t really matter who I play with. I’m expected to play a certain way and I play the same way no matter who I play with."

Lucic was later re-united with his original linemates -- David Krejci and Nathan Horton -- in the third period, which meant that Brad Marchand -- who had replaced Lucic on the wing with Krejci and Horton to start Monday's game -- was also re-united with Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, moving Daniel Paille back down to his normal line.

"I guess you try and say, 'Well, there's half a period left.' Lucic was skating well, so I put him back with his line," said Julien. "You hope that maybe that little bit of chemistry is going to make a difference. That's what you're trying to do."

Julien got his spark with Lucic's goal. And then he got a goal from Bergeron that tied the game at 2-2 with 9:24 left in the third period. Dougie Hamilton won a race for the puck behind the Maple Leafs net, and fed Bergeron out front, who finished with a backhand.

At first glance, the goal might now have looked like it had anything to do with the lines being put back together. But dig a little deeper, and you'll see Marchand's perfect dump-and-change from the red line that led Hamilton deep into Toronto's zone with full speed.

After Hamilton won the battle, there were only four players in the zone. Two Maple Leafs. Two Bruins. Everyone else was caught up in a line change, thanks to Marchand's dump-in. But also, Marchand was assisting with his usual antagonistic style.

After he dumped it in for Hamilton, he was stirring it up in front of the Maple Leafs bench with several players who were on both ends of Toronto's line change.

"I thought [Marchand] was going for a change, so I knew I was going to be with Dougie," said Bergeron. "But I thought [Toronto] was also doing the same thing. So I knew it was kind of a 2-on-2, so I was just trying to stay open and stay on the far side, because I knew that Dougie was going to come around the net."

Hamilton did just that, and found Bergeron, who had time to hold off only one defenseman and take a shot.

"It was a good dump, actually, by Marchand to send Dougie there with speed," said Bergeron. "And I was just trying to get open for him to get me the puck.

"I wasn't really thinking about it, I just felt like I had a lot of time to make a play. And I just tried to make the most of it."

Bergeron's goal was the reason the game went into the shootout in the first place, which got the Bruins at least one point. Bergeron's shootout goal was the difference-maker in the Bruins picking up two points on Monday night.

Bergeron admitted afterwards that the new lines did create that "spark" the Bruins were looking for.

"Sometimes you need a spark like that," he said. "And it felt like all the lines were doing well and playing well and moving our feet, creating some good chances."

Bergeron praised Paille, who stepped up onto his wing for the first two periods, crediting his speed in replacement for Marchand.

But Bergeron also admitted that when the lines went back to normal in the third period, the team felt "at home."

"I felt great, also, with Paille, so I'm not going to take anything away from him at all," said Bergeron. "It was great to play with both Paille and Marchand. Obviously with Marchand, we have that chemistry that's been going for a long time. So it's not going to take too long for us to . . . right away, as soon as [Julien] put us back together, we feel at home, pretty much."

Julien changed the lines. He got his spark. And then he realized his team's comfort level.

He put the lines back together. The Bruins felt comfortable again. They scored.

And they found themselves back in the win column.