WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Boston Bruins’ lineup might look quite different when the team takes the ice Thursday night in Buffalo against the Sabres.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien mixed up his bottom three lines at Wednesday’s practice. The most notable changes were made to the second line, which for about a year has featured Brad Marchand at left wing, Patrice Bergeron at center and Reilly Smith at right wing.
Marchand and Smith were skating on the third and fourth lines, respectively, during the team’s skate Wednesday. When Marchand left practice early with an undisclosed issue, Matt Fraser skated in his spot on the third line.
“When you (change the lines) I think it’s to get a spark going, and create some chances offensively, create some goal scoring,” Bergeron said. “Obviously it doesn’t really matter who you play with on this team, it’s about doing your job and helping your team.”
“Anytime you change lines you gotta definitely keep it simple and go back to basics. Put the puck on net, get some traffic and go on from there. That’s probably the main key is to make the simple plays early on and create some chemistry. Really, (Thursday’s game) is going to be about working hard and making simple plays.”
Julien has shown a lot of patience with the Bergeron line, but its inability to provide offense at even strength is a real concern. Marchand, Bergeron and Smith have not scored a goal during 5-on-5 play over the last five games.
Smith, who battled inconsistency in 2013-14, has scored only one goal in the last 10 games. Bergeron tied for the team lead in goals last season with 30, but he has a nine-game goal drought right now. Marchand has one goal and two assists in 11 games, and he leads all NHL forwards with nine minor penalties.
The only trio that remained intact from Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild was the top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Seth Griffith.
Each player has tallied at least five points over the last four games. Griffith scored twice and added an assist, while Lucic scored one goal and picked up an assist against the Wild. Krejci has been Boston’s most consistent scorer with a team-leading nine points in eight games, including a seven-game point streak.
These were the lines used in practice:
Milan Lucic–David Krejci–Seth Griffith
Chris Kelly–Patrice Bergeron–Simon Gagne
Brad Marchand–Carl Soderberg–Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille–Gregory Campbell–Reilly Smith/Matt Fraser
Photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images