Claude Julien has made some bold decisions in his tenure as Boston's bench boss. He memorably benched Phil Kessel in the 2008 playoffs — a decision that paid dividends upon the return of the newly inspired winger. He's never been afraid to shake up his lines, and he doesn't hesitate to surprise everyone with his shootout lineup.
Last November, P.J. Axelsson skated toward center ice to take the deciding shootout shot against Chicago, and the veteran swung wide and beat Nikolai Khabibulin.
Thursday night, Julien's call to go with Mark Recchi didn't end quite as successfully.
The 41-year-old, who isn't known for what he can do with the puck as much as he is for tipping the puck, actually faked goaltender Carey Price to the ice, but Recchi was unable to get a shot off and the Bruins lost (video can be seen here, at the 6:31 mark).
Recchi was 1-for-10 in shootouts in his career before the attempt, and after Thursday's miss, he ranks fourth-worst in the NHL, according to NHLshootouts.com.
Julien said he made his decision based on Recchi's work in practice.
"I know that the last time we practiced it, he was extremely good," Julien told ESPNBoston.com. "So again, I know when you're not scoring goals, the first thing that's going to happen is everybody's going to second-guess every move you make. That's part of the game. That's why we're there, and we do what we feel is best with it."
Julien's best option left on the bench was Marco Sturm, who has scored on seven of 25 shootout attempts in his career (28 percent). Zdeno Chara is 2-for-5 in his career, Michael Ryder is 2-for-13 (15 percent) and even Dennis Wideman is 2-for-8.
Still, it might not have mattered if Julien had Wayne Gretzky on his bench, as Montreal goaltender Carey Price was stopping just about everything that came his way. He made 42 saves in regulation and overtime, and he stoned Patrice Bergeron (who scored at a 29 percent clip in shootouts before Thursday night) and Blake Wheeler (45 percent) in the first two rounds of the shootout.
Had Recchi scored, it may have provided a similar spark as the one provided by Axelsson last November. Instead, it turned out to be the latest chapter of disappointment in a Bruins season that has been a struggle since Day 1.