WILMINGTON, Mass. — Shawn Thornton had to do a bit of a double take when he arrived at his locker on Sunday.
Gone from his stall was his familiar maroon, or what he likes to call merlot, practice jersey. In its place was a gray one, the same color Tyler Seguin and Daniel Paille wear. Michael Ryder, meanwhile, had a maroon jersey awaiting him instead of his usual gray as Bruins coach Claude Julien shook up the lines in an effort to kick-start Boston's suddenly struggling offense.
"I think it's the first time in four years I've had something other than a merlot on, maybe a black here and there when I was filling in on D," said Thornton. "I've played with Paille a bunch before. We played together all last year pretty much, so I'm very familiar with him. And I just told Siggy [Seguin] to get the dangerous guy the puck, and he knows that."
Thornton already has three goals this year after scoring just one last season, and the combination of him with Greg Campbell and Brad Marchand has been one of Boston's most effective and consistent all season. Now it's up to Ryder to click with Campbell and Marchand.
"Those guys are playing really well, especially Thorty," said Ryder. "I think [Julien] just wanted to change it up a bit to get things going again. For me I just have to make sure I keep working hard and hopefully I can help the line. We played together a bit at the end of some games. I think there's a bit of chemistry there."
Thornton joked that Ryder will have big shoes to fill in trying to replace Thornton's production on the line.
"That's what he told me today," said Ryder. "They've been playing really well together. They have a lot of chemistry and they're one of the big reasons we were winning. So hopefully I can jump in there and hopefully Thorty can do the same on the line where I was playing. Maybe a little shakeup is the thing we need right now."
Julien definitely feels the team needs something after winning just one of its last five games and scoring only a single goal in back-to-back home losses to Montreal and Ottawa. He wouldn't commit to how long he would keep the new combinations together, but he did want to try something new to get his charges going again. This switch was one of the few options available to Julien as he tries to juggle lines with centers Marc Savard and David Krejci both sidelined.
"It's something that I did for today," said Julien, who kept the other lines of Patrice Bergeron between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton and Blake Wheeler flanked by Mark Recchi and Jordan Caron intact. "When you haven't won too many games lately and it's unfortunate because we feel like we're a little handcuffed maybe because we're short in the middle and there's not a ton of options. So today we just made that little change with Ryder and Thornton.
"Whether it stays like that tomorrow or not, or whether I start with it and then change, I don't know. I think right now it's us trying to feel our through trying to find something that's going to spark our offense a little more."
The Bruins do need something to spark some offense when New Jersey comes to the Garden on Monday, but Thornton had some suspicions about another motive behind the change.
"I think what happened is Marshy [Marchand] and Soupy [Campbell] had a conspiracy against me the whole time," said Thornton, doing his best as usual to keep things light in the locker room. "They've been trying to get rid of me the last 14 games and they finally got their wish."