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Julien Makes All the Right Moves: Bruins’ Coach Demotes Krejci to Third Line
When the Bruins got on a roll last spring and won three seven-game playoff series on the way to the Stanley Cup, head coach Claude Julien did a lot more than go along for the ride. He made a series of moves that helped facilitate Boston's first title run since the legendary Bobby Orr led the Bruins to the 1972 title.
I think the biggest of those moves was putting Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg on the same defensive pairing, allowing the Bruins to play shut down defense no matter who the opposition put on the ice. The move allowed the Bruins to climb out of an 0-2 hole against Montreal in the first round, overwhelm Philadelphia in the second round and outlast Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals. Chara and Seidenberg continued their dominance in the Finals against Vancouver, where they locked down the fragile twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Julien is the thinking man's coach. He runs a tight ship but he's not a screamer. He can find the right words when the occasion is needed, but he's not going to remind anyone of Vince Lombardi when it comes to making a speech. But he will make the right moves from the start of the season to the finish.
The latest sees him pulling center David Krejci off the first line between Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley (filling in for the concussed Nathan Horton) and moving him to a spot between Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron on the team's third unit. Julien moved Chris Kelly to Krejci's spot on the top line. I think it was a great way to wake up Krejci.
After a hot streak prior to the all-star game, Krejci was floating after the team returned from the break, seemingly skating at half speed. Since the Bruins lost two of their first three post-break games, Julien decided to act sooner rather than later.
In the first game following the move, Boston defeated Washington 4-1 Jan. 5. The victory and the margin were obvious benefits, but it was the overall team effort pleased Julien and Bruins fans even more.
The Capitals game marked a return to form that the Bruins had in November in December. They ripped off a 20-3-1 streak between Nov. 1 and Dec. 28 that demonstrated they were capable of repeating last year's Stanley Cup championship.
Julien has the pulse of the team, almost always making the correct choice in goal when it comes to alternating between the White House-skipping Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. Additionally, he will adjust his defensive pairings and power play unit from time to time.
Krejci, almost predictably, is not happy about the move. Why should he be? He is probably the most talented all-around offensive player on the team and he was one of the key performers during last year's Stanley Cup run. But Krejci tends to relax when the hockey season reaches its dog days—which it is in right now—and the move may wake him up.
It's also not permanent. Julien will keep Krejci on the third line for a game or two or three, but you can be sure he'll return to his former sport as soon as Julien thinks it will result in increased production and consistency. I have full confidence in Julien's ability to use his talent in the proper way and allow the Bruins to get the most out of their considerable talent. Julien's penchant for making the right coaching moves should be enough to help the Bruins make another Stanley Cup run.
If they don't get there, it won't be because Julien is asleep at the switch.
Boston Herald—Change Good for Krejci
Boston Bruins Website—Schedule and Results
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