At pregame skate this morning at the Bell Centre, Bruins coach Claude Julien did more than just shake-up the line combinations with a few changes here and there.
He practically blew up the entire system and put the pieces back together with his hand covering his eyes. What resulted was the lineup you see below:
You may notice a few abnormalities from the list, save for the obvious mixing of names that just shouldn't be together. Insert Matt Fraser. No Carl Soderberg, no Justin Florek.
Julien was rather coy with reporters after practice, telling the assembled media:
"Oh, I think it just gives you guys something to write about so you don't get bored. And tonight, I can decide whether I want to stick with those or put my lines back to what I want."
So don't expect to see Brad Marchand and Jarome Iginla skating on the third line when puck drops tonight in Game 4. However, if the Bruins again have a slow start and get behind early, you can expect Julien to jumble the lines with an aim to spark a stagnant offense.
In the case of Soderberg, according to coach himself, Soderberg took the option to skip practice as opposed to there being any injury concerns to worry about for the 28-year-old centreman. Julien already confirmed that Soderberg will be available for Game 4 tonight.
Justin Florek, after sitting out the last two games vs the Habs in favor of Jordan Caron, has been shipped back to Providence in exchange for Matt Fraser. Florek has recorded one point in six games this postseason while getting docked for four PIMs.
Fraser played in 14 games for the Bruins this season through December and January, scoring two goals, skating to an even rating and accumulating 10 PIMs by way of two five-minute majors for fighting. The 23-year old winger has played the majority of his season in Providence, notching 20 goals and 30 points in 44 games for the P-Bruins.
Why did the B's recall Fraser and send Florek to Providence? And one more, why do the Bruins continue to roll with Jordan Caron over Florek? Who knows for sure, really. For all the trouble we give Caron, Claude Julien must see something in his game to warrant giving him the nine minutes and change in ice time a night. Where both Caron and Florek are bottom-six forwards, CSNNE's Joe Haggerty suspects that Matt Fraser could be the one to jump up to a spot on the top two lines if need be.
Julien added some more commentary on today's practice session ahead of tonight's crucial Game 4
Honestly, I think you're overthinking honestly. 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...
If whether or not he is willing to change his lines 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...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.
On his confidence level in the team:
We're a group that's been confident but we also have the guys right now that are a little frustrated at themselves, and they know they have to be better, and they're going to be better - and that's the confidence we have in our group. 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.