The Boston Bruins have shaken up their forward lines in an effort to even their second round series with the Montreal Canadiens when the two teams meet at the Bell Centre tonight.
The Canadiens currently hold a 2-1 series edge, and will go with the same lineup that saw them defeat the Bruins 4-2 on home ice in game three. The Bruins however, have changed up all four forward lines heading into game four.
The B’s most productive line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith will start tonight’s contest on three separate lines, as Boston head coach Claude Julien searches for a way to top the Habs.
Bergeron will center Milan Lucic and Loui Eriksson, while Smith will line up with David Krejci and Daniel Paille. Marchand finds himself on a third line with Jarome Iginla and Gregory Campbell. The fourth line at the morning skate had Matt Fraser skating with Jordan Caron and Shawn Thornton.
In the first three games of this series the Bergeron line had combined for 11 points, while the Krejci line with Lucic and Iginla scored just two goals, including an empty netter from Lucic in game two. Spreading out the top line is an obvious effort by Julien to get more offense from his group.
Boston has played well this series, outplaying the Habs for large stretches of games, but they have becomes obviously frustrated at times in the series with their inability to capitalize on countless scoring chances. Carey Price absolutely stole game one for the Habs and was even better in a game two loss.
The Canadiens tinkered their lineup in game three, putting Thomas Vanek on a second line with Tomas Plekanec and Michael Bournival, and elevating Brendan Gallagher to the top line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. Having snipers Pacioretty and Vanek on separate lines, and also having a third line of Lars Eller, Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta that won’t quit gave the Bruins matchup problems in their 4-2 loss on Tuesday night.
To see Boston shake up their lines in a response to Montreal making adjustments shows the Bruins are searching for an answer to the Canadiens attack. The Bruins appear to have a deeper attack now, but also broke up their only line that was scoring regularly.
It is promising for the Habs to see that Boston is breaking up a lineup that was held together for almost the entire season. If the Canadiens, especially Price, can continue to frustrate the Bruins, they have an excellent chance of winning game four tonight.