Bruins shuffling lines after silent night

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / December 22, 2010

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WILMINGTON — There was plenty of energy, jump, and intensity during yesterday’s Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena, which was a far cry from the lethargy on display during Monday night’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks at TD Garden.

Teammates were getting under each other’s skin, reminiscent of training camp, and coach Claude Julien shuffled his lines in an effort to find some spark.

One trio he reunited was center David Krejci with wings Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. They were a standout combination throughout the 2008-09 season. They’ve played at times together since then. Julien is hoping they catch lightning in a bottle tomorrow night against Atlanta, which is Boston’s final game before the Christmas break.

“You’ve got to try to find some solutions here,’’ said Julien. “So we moved some people around. Let’s see if that can happen. If it happens, great, because they were pretty successful then and maybe we’ll see that again.’’

Wheeler, who has eight goals in 32 games this year, had 45 points — 21 goals — during his rookie campaign with Krejci and Ryder. Krejci, who was playing in his first full year in Boston, had 22 goals and 51 assists, and newcomer Ryder had 53 points, 27 goals, in 74 contests.

“We got it going right away,’’ said Wheeler. “We had a lot of confidence in each other. We had a lot of confidence, period. When that happens, when you play with new guys and it just clicks, it’s a good feeling and it really builds quickly.

“There’s no really magic formula, just play within the system, play hard, and from there our skills will take over, and that’s when we play our best. [Krejci] is a really fun guy to play with because you know if you’re in space and there’s an opportunity to get the puck, you’re going to get it. More than anything, you just want to be ready to shoot and have your stick on the ice at all times because sometimes he sees you when you’re not even expecting it.

“I’ve obviously enjoyed playing with him when I’ve had the chance the last few years.’’

Julien also had Marc Savard centering Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. He placed rookie Tyler Seguin on right wing with center Patrice Bergeron and left wing Mark Recchi, and Gregory Campbell centered Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille. Paille replaced Brad Marchand, who was sidelined because of “stiffness’’ from a hit on Saturday.

Julien said the changes were necessary with the Bruins having won just once in the last five outings.

“I think it’s necessary when you’re not getting the results that you want,’’ he said. “You’ve got to make some changes and that’s basically what we did.

“There’s expectations here from outside, fans and people. There’s a lot of winning going around in this city, and if you want to be part of it, you have to show up and play hard every night. This is something we have to do as a group here. We’ve got to compete and get back to our game here and be the team that we should be. Right now, we’re not.

“Average isn’t good enough in this league. So we’ve got to be better than that. All you’ve got to do sometimes is compete a little harder and put a bit more into it.’’

The fans have been patient, but with a large contingent booing the team Monday night, they expect more and Julien said they’re going to get it.

“I think what the players realize is people here expect teams to win,’’ said the coach. “They’re used to it and you try to give them what they want. At the end of the day, that’s what you want to be, hopefully as a group, not just for the fans but you want to be that yourself. You want to be known as a winner and you want to do whatever it takes to win. When that happens, everybody’s happy. So I think that’s kind of what we need to do here, put a little bit more in our game.

“[Yesterday], I thought it was a good practice and I think if we can compete like that in a game, we’re going to certainly be the team that we want to be.’’

Following the workout, the players split up into seven groups to deliver Christmas toys to children at seven area hospitals.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at

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