Peverley scratch sends a message

Peverley scratch sends a message
March 22, 2013, 9:30 am
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KANATA, ON -- Claude Julien raised a few eyebrows leading into Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators when he opted to extract slumping forward Rich Peverley from the Bruins lineup as a healthy scratch. The 30-year-old Peverley has struggled all season with four goals and a team-worst minus-9 rating in 28 games for the Black and Gold, and has been part of a third line that’s been much more albatross than advantage.

Weighing Peverley’s consistency and production struggles against the desire to see more of 21-year-old Ryan Spooner after a promising game against the Winnipeg Jets factored into Julien's decision.

The Bruins coach said he hoped the healthy scratch would aid Peverley’s quest to regain his flagging confidence, and it seems a little bit of a last resort move after nothing else has worked this season.

The move to bench a key member of the power play, penalty kill and third line might also have been designed to deliver a message to the rest of Boston’s forwards that mediocrity is no longer going to be tolerated. Hopefully that will trickle down to a group of players that aren’t quite living up their advanced billing this season while the Bruins are left lacking in the overall offense category.

“I felt that [Spooner] played well enough in Winnipeg that he deserved to play again, and Rich has been struggling for a little bit,” Julien said. “I’m just hoping that [the scratch] can be the jolt that [Peverley] needs to get things going.

“[Peverley] is a good player, but he hasn’t been able to find his game for where he needs it to be. As a coach you end up hoping that you’re making the right decisions on something that can hopefully get things going for him as a player and for us a team.”  

Instead of sparking the third line, Spooner finished with 1 shot on net in 8:17 of ice time, and his forward group essentially became the forgotten fourth line logging half as many minutes as the Thornton, Paille and Campbell group that factored heavily in Thursday’s victory.

Now it’s up to Peverley to respond in the proper way and throw himself back into the Bruins fray with gusto as Julien will likely put the shifty wing back into the lineup against the Maple Leafs this weekend.