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BOSTON (CBS) – He finally did it.
Despite his team’s on-again, off-again offensive struggles the last six weeks, Bruins head coach Claude Julien had been reluctant to break up the effective two-way line of Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin flanking Selke Trophy candidate Patrice Bergeron even though one of those players would probably be able to spark another line.
Finally, Thursday against New Jersey, Seguin shifted to the right wing next to David Krejci and Milan Lucic. And the results were electrifying.
Krejci recorded his third career NHL hat trick, including the game-winner 2:59 into overtime, and Seguin snapped a 10-game goal drought in Boston’s 4-3 win over the Devils at the TD Garden.
In total, the Krejci Line combined for seven points.
“I got Seggy on my line, so I was excited about it and we clicked well together with Looch and him,” said Krejci after the dramatic victory. “It was a good game for us. I know we had a little bit sloppy second period, but we came back hard in the third and won the game, that was the most important thing.”
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For weeks I’ve been saying it might be time to put Boston’s three best healthy offensive players together in one trio. I understood Julien’s refusal to mess around with his most effective line, but finding another scorer for Krejci to set up was more important after Nathan Horton and Rich Peverley were ushered to the sidelines by injury.
While it was a wise move by Julien to get Krejci out onto the wing for a few games and get him skating harder and even playing with some physicality, sooner or later the coach was going to have to put Krejci back at his natural position and give him the tools necessary to play like the No. 1 center he’s supposed to be.
Boston’s acquisition of Brian Rolston last Monday made it easier for Julien to juggle the lineup Thursday, as Rolston provided a solid two-way veteran the coach could trust to play the way a right winger needs to on a line with Marchand and Bergeron. I would’ve been fine with Julien making the move earlier and placing Jordan Caron or Benoit Pouliot in that “second-line” role, but we all know it’s better late than never when it comes to these things.
Seguin’s speed and shot were at instant spark for Krejci and Lucic. Seguin flew down the left wing and set up Krejci’s first goal just 1:13 into the game. Lucic rumbled down the left wing and passed back to Seguin for a wicked wrist shot, which might’ve ticked off a New Jersey stick, and beat Martin Brodeur for a 2-0 lead just 8:10 into the game to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
While the Bruins actually fell behind during the second period, Krejci tied the game early in the third and then won it in overtime while on the ice with Bergeron during the 4-on-4. But the Lucic-Krejci-Seguin line had already earned the right to play together again.
Krejci slipped up once during his postgame comments and called Seguin “Horty.” The center then explained that Seguin reminded him a lot of Horton during the game. As a right winger with a rocket-fast shot, Seguin is the closest thing the Bruins have to Horton while Horton is out – which may be for a long time.
However long Horton’s absence turns out to be, the line combination that took a while to come together should stick together.