MONTREAL, QC - On Thursday morning, with the Bruins focused on evening the series against Montreal, Head Coach Claude Julien decided to switch up his lines for pregame skate.
It was, well, mostly to give reporters something to write about, according to the bench boss.
When the team filtered onto the ice at the Bell Centre, the team's rushes look like this:
Milan Lucic - Patrice Bergeron - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille - David Krejci - Reilly Smith
Brad Marchand - Gregory Campbell - Jarome Iginla
Matt Fraser - Jordan Caron - Shawn Thornton
Carl Soderberg was not on the ice for skate, and Julien said the center "took his option" and would be available Thursday night for Game 4.
Matt Fraser joined the group on the ice after being recalled from Providence. In turn, Justin Florek was assigned back to the P-Bruins.
"Oh, I think it just gives you guys something to write about so you don’t get bored," Julien quipped, with a smirk, following the team's skate. "And tonight, I can decide whether I want to stick with those or put my lines back to what I want."
And here we all are, writing about it.
The juggling made reporters smile, and made the players smile. When asked if it maybe creates a shake-up in the room, Julien also cracked a smile.
"Honestly, I think you’re overthinking, honestly," Julien responded. "We have fun with things sometimes, and that’s all we’re doing right now. We’re okay. Just having fun with things and like I said, if you guys want to write about that stuff, that's fine but we’re okay in there, we’re just focusing on our game."
A line shake-up wouldn't necessarily be too shocking at this point in the series, as the Bruins find themselves down two games to one.
David Krejci and Brad Marchand have yet to find the back of the net against Montreal (though Marchand has five assists), with Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg still searching for their first goals of the series as well. The line of Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla has two goals and three assists for five points.
In fact, Julien was asked immediately following Game 3 on Tuesday night if he would consider making line changes to break up that trio to generate a spark.
"Well, again, Soderberg’s line was doing something and you've got to look at what you’re going to break up to make that happen here," Julien had said. "Again, [the Krejci] line has been hot and cold for us in the playoffs so far. David has shown a little bit of frustration there so he has to battle through that stuff, but again, it’s a line that’s given us a lot this year and sometimes you have to have a little bit of trust in them."
"So right now that’s what I’ve got, but things have got to get better for that line for us to be successful."
Julien has patience with this experienced group, and believes that their mindset is in the right place for Game 4.
"We're a group that's confident but we also have guys that right now are a little frustrated at themselves, and they know they have to be better, and they're going to be better [Thursday] - and that's the confidence we have in our group," Julien said during the team's day off from game action on Wednesday.
"That's the way we've been in the past and you've got to rely on those guys to come up, and play the kind of game that they can."
So, will the aforementioned lines be the ones we see when the puck drops tonight on Game 4? Probably not, but anything is always possible.
If nothing else, it gave the players something new to talk about, too.
"A lot of times when that happens, it’s just to lighten the mood and just to get everyone used to different things and just to get your mind in a different spot than any negative emotions or anything," said Reilly Smith. "So it’s not really reason to think too much over it."
"Keeping things simple and light, guys," Julien stressed on Thursday morning. "It's 2-1 in the series and there’s hockey to be played here. So we’re not overconfident; we’re just saying we’re in a good series here, we’re in a big series and we do things in a way that we feel is right for our team."
"And we got ourselves ready for the game tonight."