After last week’s wheeling and dealing, Julien now has a surplus of quality forwards to choose from in assembling his lineup. With versatile forwards Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly added to the mix and only Blake Wheeler departing, Julien has 13 forwards to plug into 12 spots.
Sunday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena focused on 4-on-4 work and didn’t give an indication of how the lines will look on Tuesday in Calgary, but Julien did reveal his initial plan for Peverley.
“We’ll probably play him to start with on the wing with Kelly and [Michael] Ryder,” Julien said. “So basically just jumping in to Wheeler’s spot for now. But we’ll look at how everything unfolds and both Peverley and Kelly can play center and wing, which is good to have that versatility.”
Both Kelly and Peverley are natural centers, but both have experience on the wing and no issues with playing either position.
“That’s for coach to decide, I can play either or,” Peverley said. “I’ve been playing center most of my career, but I can play the wing. I played it in Nashville and Atlanta, so wherever he wants me to fit in I’ll just try to do that. There’s a lot of good offensive players here with tremendous talent, so I’ll just try to fit in and create some chemistry with somebody.”
Kelly, who centered Ryder and Tyler Seguin in his Bruins debut Friday against his old club in Ottawa, was similarly amenable to playing anywhere he is needed.
“I’m just coming in and playing my game,” Kelly said. “They’ve got a great, great group here. Great forwards that can score and play both ends, so I’m just going to come in and wherever the coaches or management need me to play, I’ll play. Obviously I want to help this team win and whatever they need me to do, I’ll do.
“I don’t have a preference where I play,” Kelly added. “I’ve played both wing and center and on different lines. [I’ve played] all three forward positions. I won’t play net, that’s the only thing, and I don’t think they need me to do that.”
The Bruins don’t need any help in goal, but they could use an extra roster spot up front. As it stands, unless injuries strike, someone used to playing regularly will have to sit out each game.
If Julien keeps the top two lines of David Krejci between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron flanked by Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi intact, his proposed third-line alignment of Kelly between Peverley and Ryder would drop Seguin down to the fourth line. That would put the prized rookie with Greg Campbell and Shawn Thornton, or out of the lineup altogether if Daniel Paille remains in that spot.
But Julien insisted he’ll still find ways to keep Seguin involved, and went out of his way to praise the youngster’s recent play.
“He’s one of those guys that can jump in, especially sometimes after we’ve killed penalties or coming off a power play,” Julien said. “It’s about moving him around and giving him an opportunity when need be. I think he’s played much better the last few games.”