WILMINGTON — The decision paid immediate dividends. Now, Bruins coach Claude Julien needs to determine what to do going forward.
Against the Canadiens Wednesday night, Julien made a switch on his top line, inserting Tyler Seguin for Nathan Horton. Two goals resulted, and the 2-1 win gave the Bruins first place in the Eastern Conference.
But does that mean Julien should keep Seguin with Milan Lucic and David Krejci?
“I’ve got time to change my mind in that one,” Julien said Thursday. “It’s a good question. We don’t want to overlook the fact that that line with [Horton] was our best line.”
The first line wasn’t generating many scoring chances against Montreal. So Julien made the switch.
“There was just a bit of a spark,” Julien said. “Sometimes that’s what you need. Again, it’s nice to know you can move guys around like that and there are still some good things happening out there.”
Seguin had success on the Krejci-Lucic line last season when Horton was injured, but the unit struggled defensively.
“We like the fact that we play a good two-way game and we weren’t necessarily getting that out of that line all the time,” Julien said.
Said Seguin, “I think last year we had ups and downs. Started good, then a few games in which we had some bad [plus-minus] games. But I’m just ready and prepared to play with whoever.
“I definitely think I’ve improved in my two-way game, obviously playing with a guy like [Patrice Bergeron] teaches me so much. Whether that puts me with that line or stays on Bergy’s line, I’m not thinking about it too much.”
The return of Brad Marchand, who sat out Wednesday’s game with an undisclosed injury, could also change the equation. Marchand, who normally skates on the No. 2 line with Bergeron and Seguin, was checked out Thursday and did not skate. Julien said it’s possible Marchand will play Saturday against the Lightning.
Because of the abbreviated schedule, Julien said he might have to make decisions differently. He can’t always wait for the kinks to work themselves out. There are just 39 games left.
“We’ve got a short season here and we’re going to have to make those decisions a little quicker,” Julien said. “When you have an 82-game schedule, you can afford to be a little more patient at times.”
Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille both participated in the limited skate Thursday at Ristuccia Arena, and both could play against the Lightning. Thornton suffered a concussion in a fight against John Scott of the Sabres Jan. 31 , but has been “cleared for practice, cleared for contact,” he said.
Thornton, who said he’s felt good all week, estimated this was the third concussion of his career. He said he’s been lucky it hasn’t happened more often.
The Bruins will face the Sabres again on Sunday in Buffalo.
“You include juniors and the minors, I’ve probably fought 300-400 times. Probably closer to 400,” Thornton said. “I’ve won my share, I’ve lost a few, and most of them are pretty even. It happens. Just happy it happened with somebody who was 6-8 instead of 5-8. At least I don’t look as bad.”
Thornton shot down the idea that teammate Zdeno Chara should go after Scott on Sunday.
“I don’t even know where that [stuff] comes from,” he said. “Listen, Z’s our best player and arguably the best defenseman in the league. There’s no reason for him to have to fight my battles. I’ve done this for a long time. It’s on me.
“If I knocked him out, I wasn’t expecting somebody to come grab me the next shift. We’re both men, and it happens.”
With snow on the way, there’s some question about how it might affect Saturday’s game against the Lightning at TD Garden (1 p.m. start). Julien said any possible changes were a league decision. Tampa Bay played the Devils in New Jersey on Thursday night, and were scheduled to fly to Boston after the game. The Bruins plan to practice at TD Garden on Friday morning . . . The Bruins assigned forward Ryan Spooner to Providence.