Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien responded to Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Kings by shaking up three of his four lines for Boston’s next game. Luckily for the Bruins, he chose to keep his top line intact.
With the Bruins in desperate need of a strong bounce-back game, the trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Brett Connolly put forth a thoroughly dominant performance against the Winnipeg Jets, combining for three goals, seven points, 15 shots on goal and a plus-9 rating in a 6-2 Boston win.
“We talked about kind of learning from (the Kings) game and kind of putting it in the past, also, and moving forward,” Bergeron told reporters after the game, as aired on “Bruins Overtime LIVE.” “That’s all we can really do. And I thought (Thursday night) was a great response.”
Bergeron, Boston’s longest-tenured player and lone representative at this year’s All-Star Game, paved the road for the Bruins, scoring in both the first and third periods and tallying a game- and season-high nine shots on goal. He did all this while logging a mere 14:25 of ice time — a choice Julien made after the center scrapped with ex-teammate Blake Wheeler in his first fight in more than two years.
“With the situation that it was, it was probably better for him to minimize his ice time,” the coach said in a postgame interview with NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley. “We know how much he plays and how hard he plays, so we just managed his ice time here. Hopefully, that’s just a ding like we’re suspecting, but we’ll see as we move forward here.”
Not to be overshadowed, the men on Bergeron’s right and left also excelled. Marchand scored his 11th goal in 11 games and was arguably the best player on the ice in the first period, and Connolly — the black sheep of the group who hasn’t come close to matching the numbers his more established linemates have posted — chipped in with three assists. It was Connolly’s first multi-point game of the season and the first three-point night of his NHL career.
“We have a really good line right now that’s connecting,” Marchand, who leads the Bruins with 26 goals this season, told reporters. “Bergy and Conns have been playing great. And you look at all three goals our line was on for, they won battles, they competed hard and made really good plays. So, I think I’m just benefiting from that.”
The win was not a three-man show, though. Winger Loui Eriksson scored his second goal in three games after being moved down to the third line, and second-line wing David Pastrnak provided perhaps the most important tally for the Bruins, beating Jets replacement goaltender Michael Hutchinson 35 seconds into the third period to put Boston up 4-2.
“It was definitely a full-team effort,” Marchand told reporters. “Everyone came to play tonight, and from the drop of the puck, we played a really good game. That’s what we need if we’re going to move forward and be a good team. Everyone has to play every night, and that’s what’s expected here.”
Thumbnail photo via John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP
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