Bruins notebook

In quick fix, Sturm is moved to No. 1 line

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 3, 2009

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DETROIT - Fittingly, after yesterday’s afternoon practice at Joe Louis Arena, Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm sat next to each other at their stalls in the visiting team’s dressing room and ate lunch.

Yesterday, for the first time this season, Bergeron and Sturm were on the same line, practicing with Mark Recchi on the No. 1 threesome.

“Obviously we have to score more goals,’’ said Sturm, whose team was blanked by the Rangers Sunday, 1-0. “Me and Bergy have played together for a long time. So we’re mixing things up and see if we can score more goals.’’

Since his arrival from San Jose in the Joe Thornton blockbuster Nov. 30, 2005, Sturm had been a perpetual partner for Bergeron. The pair, with Brad Boyes and Chuck Kobasew seeing time on the right side, played in all situations. But 11 games into 2008-09, after the duo flickered early, coach Claude Julien busted them up and didn’t reunite them until Dec. 18. That night, Sturm, playing in his first game since Nov. 17 (he’d been shelved because of concussion-like symptoms), tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee and didn’t play again in 2008-09.

By dropping Brad Marchand to the third line, Julien is hoping Sturm’s speed and experience playing with Bergeron can bring some scoring punch to the top threesome (Recchi is the right wing).

“Sturmy’s always been better with Bergy,’’ Julien said.

Julien also reassembled last year’s No. 2 line: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Michael Ryder. The three forwards skated together for the first five games of this season, but had been split up since then. Most recently, Krejci had centered Sturm and Recchi, Wheeler had been with Vladimir Sobotka and Daniel Paille, and Ryder had been Bergeron’s right wing with Marchand on the left side.

Last year, Krejci was usually the catalyst, helping to bring out the offensive games of any wingmen who jumped on board. But Krejci (1-4 -5) has not been his usual playmaking self this year.

“It wasn’t the same,’’ Krejci said of their play earlier this season compared to 2008-09’s chemistry. “Hopefully we’ll be better this time.’’

Sobotka centered Paille and Marchand yesterday. Trent Whitfield, Steve Begin, and Shawn Thornton made up the fourth line.

Similar predicament
The Bruins most likely will be without Marc Savard (foot) and Milan Lucic (finger) for most, if not all, of November. The Red Wings are also without two significant up-front pieces in Johan Franzen (knee) and Valtteri Filppula (wrist). Franzen, one of the league’s better power forwards, might not return until February. Filppula, a rising two-way center, broke his wrist Thursday and could miss as much as two months.

“The guys that we’re talking about coming back, they’re not coming back for a long time,’’ said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “We’re either getting going without them or we’re not going. That’s just the facts. You look at Boston’s lineup, it’s much like ours that way. They’ve got some high-end guys that are out. No one cares. You’ve just got to find a way to survive and win.’’

Lucic has been skating on his own. Savard is scheduled to shed the boot from his left foot this week.

Power play missing Savard
It’s no surprise that in the six games Savard has missed, the Bruins have gone 1 for 17 (5.9 percent) on the power play. Of Savard’s 269 points with the Bruins, 113 came on the power play. As the right-side half-boards man, Savard has been among the NHL’s premier man-advantage playmakers. Savard could dish to his point shooter for one-timers. He could tuck it down low for his goal-line guy for walk-ins. He could thread cross-ice passes through penalty-killing boxes. And he also could rip slappers or walk pucks into the slot.

“Best passer in the league on the half-wall,’’ said Derek Morris. “Joe Thornton’s close. But Savvy, he can pass it cross-ice over three sticks and land it flat. You think, ‘Oh, he got lucky.’ But he does it 60 times a year. He’s the best passer, bar none. Best passer in the league. He knows what he’s doing before he gets the puck. As soon as he gets it, he’s throwing it to where the guy’s going to be.’’

Osgood between pipes
Chris Osgood, in net for Detroit’s 3-1 road win over Calgary on Saturday, will be back between the pipes tonight. He’ll most likely be opposed by Tim Thomas . . . Tonight’s game will air on Versus. The network remains unavailable to DirecTV customers . . . Matt Hunwick, a four-year University of Michigan star, visited the Ann Arbor campus Sunday. His younger brother Shawn is the No. 2 goalie for the Wolverines . . . Byron Bitz (groin) didn’t practice yesterday, making it unlikely he’ll play tonight. Bitz was scratched Sunday . . . During one practice drill yesterday, the Bruins set up both nets on one goal line. Skaters were split into two groups to shoot on Thomas and Tuukka Rask. First, each goalie would stare down a single shooter, then try to stop two-on-zeros and three-on-zeros. Thomas, doing his usual acrobatics, stopped more pucks than Rask. “You’ve got to find ways to score goals, and sometimes you’ve got to loosen them up a little bit,’’ Julien said. “You create some competition and make it fun, but also keep it serious.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at

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