No jackpot for Jillson
Kutlak replaces him in the lineup
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sometimes a different view of the game can alter a player's perspective. That's what Bruins coach Mike Sullivan is hoping for, anyway. Last night against the Florida Panthers, Sullivan elected to bench defenseman Jeff Jillson in favor of Zdenek Kutlak.
"As of late, [Jillson] has to be more prepared to play," said Sullivan. "You can't take anything for granted in this game and it's a competitive league. We know Jeff is a very good player and we expect he'll be a big part of this team. I think it's just sometimes players benefit from watching and maybe getting a different perspective on how the game is being played out there."
Jillson hasn't been the only inconsistent player on the roster throughout the team's nine-game malaise (1-3-4-1) but Sullivan thinks he would benefit from a break.
"Jeff's a guy who has to be prepared to play every day, not unlike any player but with young players especially, it's a bigger challenge," the coach said. "Fatigue enters into it. Mental fatigue enters into it and I think that's one of the adjustments that young players have to make, the ability to play through those situations.
"Jeff is at a point right now where I don't think he's played his best and we certainly want to get him back there and we feel this is a decision that hopefully will get him back there. I'm sure he's disappointed. It's never an easy thing to tell a player he's not in the lineup. We believe in him, we know he's capable, but we also have expectations and we expect him, just like we expect all of our players, to be prepared from the drop of the puck every night."
Jillson was clearly down about being scratched but said he'd accept it as a professional.
"I've just got to handle it the best way possible and not let it affect me in a negative way," he said. "I have to try to take the positive out of it if there is any. Whatever helps the team, whatever the coaching staff feels is what I'm willing to do. It's just one of those things. He wants me to be more consistent and I've just got to come out and play 60 minutes every night. I've got to, I guess, learn from this and never look back."
Jillson sat for the first time this season but his replacement had done nothing but sit since being called up from Providence Nov. 4. The club even had Kutlak play a game back in the minors over the weekend in an effort to get him ready to come into the lineup.
"He has good mobility, he's pretty sound defensively, and he's got a real active stick," said Sullivan. "He's a pretty good penalty killer. I think he fits into our defense corps because he has a simple game plan and that's the type of defense corps we have."
Kutlak played 14 shifts over 10:57 of ice time, even seeing a little penalty killing, and finished a minus-1.
"I thought he did pretty well for his first game in there," said Sullivan. "The pace of play is a step or two faster and that's a big adjustment."
Shakeup on blue line
Sullivan altered his defense pairings, putting Kutlak with Ian Moran and teaming Moran's former partner -- Dan McGillis -- with Hal Gill. The only pair left intact was Nick Boynton and Sean O'Donnell . . . Forward Michal Grosek, who missed two games because of a shoulder injury, was back in the lineup . . . Rookie Patrice Bergeron, who had practice off Tuesday to rest some aches and pains, was fine to play . . . Goalie Andrew Raycroft got his third consecutive start, opposing Roberto Luongo. It was the first time this season that either Raycroft or Felix Potvin started three in a row. Earlier in the season, Raycroft did appear in three straight, relieving Potvin in the second game of the year against Tampa Bay and then starting the next two -- in Florida and Dallas. Sullivan said not to read too much into Raycroft's run. "Razor obviously has been pretty good as of late," said the coach. "We wanted to give him an opportunity to play but we still feel as though we have two capable goalies and both guys are going to see time." Raycroft said he's not assuming anything. "Obviously, if anything it's almost a nice compliment that they've given me three starts in a row," he said. "But I don't think it really means a whole lot."
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