But even while he may have bristled at the suggestion that it was his new No. 1 line, Julien is determined to let the newly formed unit of David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic have plenty of time to forge some chemistry together. And if they click as hoped, it would be hard to see them as anything other than a top line.
"All three of us are strong on the puck," said Lucic. "Krejci is real good with the puck, a real good playmaker. That's a guy that we want to give the puck. Horty's scored a lot of goals in this league so far in the years that he's played, so we'll do everything we can to get him the puck in the high slot so he can get that shot off. I just have to make sure I'm getting in on the forecheck, retrieving pucks and creating screens and getting in front of the net."
The trio played together for the first time Saturday night in a 3-2 shootout loss to Florida at the Garden. There was definitely an adjustment period as they got used to each other, but they showed flashes of what they could potentially do together.
"We saw in that second period there when they were really cycling the puck and controlling play, and those were really good signs," said Julien. "I think what happens in those situations as you build chemistry, they're trying to find each other. As they get better hopefully they'll get more shots away from all that work they did, and that's going to happen with time. You've got to let those guys find that chemistry and the only way to do that is to let them play. They made some mistakes as far as over-passing at times, but that's part of the process of getting to know each other. It can only get better from here on in."
After rookie phenom Tyler Seguin staked the Bruins to a 1-0 lead 1:20 into the second period for a goal in his first game with the varsity on Garden ice, it was Horton's turn to pot one in his Garden debut.
Horton made it 2-0 off a feed from Krejci, who drew the defense to him along the boards, then feed it over to Horton for one of his patented wristers from the slot.
"It was just a nice play by David," said Horton. "He kind of sucked two guys over to him and gave me the puck. I just brought it to the middle, tried to get a better angle and it went in.
"He's a special player," added Horton. "He's a great playmaker. He sees the ice real well. He's definitely a smart hockey player. You want to give him the puck as much as you can."
Horton and especially Lucic give Krejci a pair of big bodies willing to play physical to create space around him. Lucic showed that Saturday with some big hits, then pounded out a decision in a fight with Triston Grant after the Panthers' tough guy tried to goad Horton into a battle late in the first period.
"I think the game on both ends was kind of lacking a little bit of emotion there," said Lucic. "[Grant] was going after Horton a little bit, so it felt like it was the right time, end of the period try and get things going, get things started. You know it’s preseason so it nice to get a couple out of the way. I think we responded pretty well after that."
Horton certainly appreciated the gesture, and everything else about Lucic's game.
"He's the ultimate hockey player," said Horton. "He can do everything. It's pretty amazing just to watch him, you know. He fights. He hits. He scores.
"He's a pretty good player and, obviously, he's a nice guy too," added Horton with his usual wide smile.
Things weren't all so happy at some points in the game, as the trio did struggle at times to get on the same page.
"I think I the first period we were kind of running around a little bit too much and we couldn't really get into a flow," said Lucic. "I think we had some pretty good shifts there in the second. Chemistry doesn't happen automatically. You've got to find it, so it takes a little bit of time. We're prepared to do whatever we can to find that as soon as possible."
And it appears Julien is willing to give them the time together to develop into a dangerous scoring line. Just don't try to call it the No. 1 line.
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