OTTAWA – Rich Peverley certainly wasn’t doing any handstands about being a healthy scratch for the first time in his Bruins career on Thursday night in Ottawa.
The third line center was scratched in favor of 21-year-old Ryan Spooner and watched Boston’s 2-1 win over the Senators from the Scotiabank Place press box. Peverley has only four goals on the season and is sporting a team-worst minus-9 on the season, and has been part of a Bruins’ third line that’s struggled wire-to-wire thus far this season.
So it wasn’t a surprising move, but it was clearly a move by Claude Julien looking to spark his struggling player.
Peverley admitted following Friday’s practice at Carleton University that he was “frustrated” at being scratched, but was trying to do his best to turn it into a positive situation.
“You definitely think about it a lot,” said Peverley. “You wouldn’t be a hockey player if you weren’t frustrated by it. But you need to take a positive out of it and that’s what I’m trying to do right now.
“Obviously you never want to be a healthy scratch. But it was a coach’s decision. I know I need to be a lot better. Hopefully from here on out, it will go a lot better and I can use it as motivation.
Peverley has been scratched before in his NHL career that’s spanned seasons with the Nashville Predators and Atlanta Thrashers, and the shifty forward has been put on waivers before in his career. So a healthy scratch clearly isn’t close to the worst thing that’s ever happened to him, but he’s clearly taking it as a message from the coaching staff that he needs to be better.
Peverley has one goal in his last 10 games and is a minus-5 during the month of March, and managed only one total shot on net in his last two games against the Penguins and Jets while sliding over to center in place of Chris Kelly. But he also seems miles away from the guy that finished with 22 goals and 55 assists for the Thrashers back in 2009-10 and was viewed as a perennial 20 goal guy when he first arrived in Boston for their Stanley Cup run.
“It’s not the first time I’ve ever been a healthy scratch. It’s happened a few times in my career,” said Peverley. “You try to take the positive out of it. You can’t dwell on the negative. Obviously I want to try to turn things around.
“I know we need to be a lot better five-on-five. We haven’t been bad defensively, but we just haven’t had any scoring out of the third line. It definitely needs to be better. Maybe it’s just shooting the puck more, taking it to the net more or showing some jam in front of the net. But it’s definitely been a trying season from a production standpoint.”
Because of his ability to play in all situations – power play, penalty kill at all forward spots from third line all the way up to the first line – Peverley is a valuable commodity at an affordable $3.25 million price tag, and has had his name mentioned in trade discussions with the Bruins. There’s still every chance Peverley can get back to his previous form and make it too difficult for the Black and Gold to potentially include him in a deadline deal to improve the team.
But the more Peverley and the rest of the third line struggles, the greater the chances Chiarelli is going to do something to shake up the makeup of that current forward line prior to the April 3 trade deadline. The Bruins will do everything possible, however, to bring Peverley back to the player that score 18 goals two seasons ago and topped 40 points in each of the last two years.
That started with the coaching staff opting for a healthy scratch against the Senators, and it should include Peverley getting a chance to turn his season around starting this weekend against the Toronto Maple Leafs.