Head coach Claude Julien raised some eyebrows in Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs when he decided to bench Rich Peverley in favor of Kaspars Daugavins. But all indications point to Peverley skating with Jaromir Jagr and Chris Kelly on the Bruins’ third line for Game 2 as the Bruins look to take a 2-0 series lead Saturday night at the TD Garden.
Perhaps Julien’s motivation was to get a response from Peverley, who struggled during the last few games of the regular season. Either way, the selfless veteran is looking to contribute.
“We won the game so I guess it’s a good decision,” Peverley said about being a healthy scratch. “I’ve always prided myself on my play during the playoffs, so I hope if I’m in there I can prove to be a valuable part of the team. Whatever it takes to win the game.”
This isn’t the first time that Peverley’s been scratched in 2013. The former Thrasher was benched back on March 21st against the Ottawa Senators and followed up with assists in his next three games.
Peverley, however, was caught in a slump again from late March to the end of the season. In that span, he tallied just six points (one goal, five assists) and saw his minutes decrease - despite having a goal and an assist in the last two games of the year - especially during the final regular season game against the Sens when he only notched 12:25 of ice time.
“I’d like to [unleash], but I want to contribute in a way that helps the others,” Peverley said after the morning skate Saturday. “If I am playing - and I don’t know yet - hopefully I can do something [for the team].”
For someone who is relied upon on the power play and penalty kill, those stats were far from ideal. But Julien thinks that Peverley can get a spark underneath him after the benching, much like he did during the regular season.
“I don’t think we intended on sitting him out this whole time,” Julien said after Friday’s practice in Wilmington. “I think we started off with a lineup that we thought was most deserving of starting last game. We have an opportunity here moving forward to decide what we want to do.”
“[When he’s at his best], he skates, he can shoot the puck, he’s a skilled player and that’s what he’s known for,” Julien added.
Little did anyone know that Peverley would be a key catalyst to the Bruins’ Cup run in 2011 after being traded from Atlanta. His versatility paid dividends for the Black and Gold as he saw action on the third line with Michael Ryder and Chris Kelly, the Merlot Line, and the first line after Nathan Horton’s injury.
Even after their 4-1 victory over the Leafs Wednesday, the Bruins can still use Peverley’s versatility. If it pays off, then Bruins fans could once again hear Jack Edwards echo one of his famous catch phrases.
“Isn’t that Rich.”
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