Boston head coach Claude Julien noticed this, of course. It’s his job to realize things like these. It’s also his job to do everything he can to remedy these situations, and he did just that on Wednesday night.
Julien shook up his lines heading into the third period, and it paid off in the Bruins’ 2-1 win over the Canadiens.
The head coach made the bold move of moving Tyler Seguin up to the first line, while bumping Nathan Horton down a line to skate alongside Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell on the de facto second line.
It only took 14 seconds for Julien to see those changes pay off.
The B’s started the third with the first line, which now featured Seguin, Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Boston gained possession after the opening faceoff, and Lucic was able to chip the puck into the zone. Seguin, looking like he had been shot out of a rocket, chased the puck into the zone while putting pressure on the Montreal defense.
That pressure led to Krejci gaining possession along the right wall at the goal line. Seguin finished the play by skating behind the net and back toward the left post where Krejci hit him with a pinpoint pass. Seguin banged it home to tie the game 1-1.
That same line scored again just a couple of minutes later with some more gorgeous passing (this time from Johnny Boychuk, Seguin and then Lucic) with a couple of aggressive net drives that culminated with a Krejci goal in the Montreal crease.
That 2-1 lead proved to be enough, as Boston held on to take the first of four meetings between these storied rivals.
“There are gonna be some nights where things aren’t going to go as well,” Julien told reporters after the game. “We all know that Krejci line has been awesome for us. Tonight they didn’t seem to be able to generate much. So tonight I said why not try to move guys around some and give us a little bit of a spark. It worked out.”
It didn’t just work out for the first line, either. The Bergeron line showed a considerable amount of jump in the second as well. Horton, who was a total non-factor through two periods, wasted no time making an impact in the third. He skated through traffic to gain control of the puck to the right of the Montreal goal, before working the puck to Bergeron. Horton, like Seguin, continued to skate hard. He went behind the net, came back out on the left wing where he was fed the puck. Carey Price came up with a big save, however, to ensure Horton wasn’t able to break through.
The bulk of the credit goes to Julien for realizing the problem and doing something about it. It doesn’t always work out as well as it did Wednesday, but that’s because players don’t always respond to these types of things the right way. So give credit to those two lines as well for responding the right way and turning things around.
“The guys responded well,” Julien said. “You look at Seggy [Seguin] driving the net on that first goal and Horts [Horton] almost scored on his first shift. He had a great chance, so it just kind of gave us a little bit of spark and it gave us a chance to score those two goals.”
Different people are going to have to step up over the course of the season for the Bruins to be successful. Usually those people are going to be the guys on the ice. But on Wednesday at least, a lot of the credit should go to the man calling the shots behind the Boston bench.