Peverley becomes man for all occasions
WILMINGTON - Rich Peverley scored an empty-net goal in the Bruins’ 5-2 win over the Lightning Tuesday night. He played a team-high 6:10 on the power play and took shifts on the top two lines. He also saw 1:24 of shorthanded action alongside usual partner Chris Kelly.
It was exactly the type of multipurpose game both player and organization expect.
“I’ve always tried to make myself available in every situation,’’ Peverley said. “I want to be able to be counted on in big situations. The more I can play, the more I’m happy. Being able to adjust to different positions, I think that’s always been a goal of mine.’’
The Bruins learned the hard way how valuable Peverley has become. Including a 19-game absence because of a sprained right knee, the Bruins have gone a pedestrian 13-11-1 when Peverley has not been available. By contrast, the Bruins are 32-17-2 when Peverley (10-29-39 in 51 games) has been in the lineup. Peverley returned for last Sunday’s 3-2 win over Anaheim.
Most recently, Peverley has been on the No. 1 line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci, and manning the right point on the power play alongside Dennis Seidenberg. Peverley has won 61.4 percent of his faceoffs, the best mark on the team among those with 300 or more draws.
Peverley is another version of Patrice Bergeron - an all-around forward who has become reliable in every situation. One reason why the Bruins have been able to sit defenseman Joe Corvo is Peverley’s ability to play the point on the power play. Peverley also can assume some of the shorthanded shifts once claimed by Daniel Paille.
“That’s what we’ve liked about Rich Peverley’s role,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He’s used on the point on the power play. He kills penalties for us. A wing, but can also play center if need be. He’s a very versatile player.’’
For the last two games, Paille has watched Jordan Caron swipe his left-wing spot on the fourth line. Given that the Bruins won both games, it’s just about guaranteed that Paille once again will be a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game against the Capitals.
“I’ve got to do the best I can to work back in there,’’ Paille said. “I know I’m going to give it 100 percent every night. Eventually it’s going to come back and find a groove again.’’
Paille isn’t the only former regular who’s now occupying the press box. Corvo had dressed for the first 70 games but has been a healthy scratch for the last six. The Bruins are 5-1-0 with Corvo absent from the lineup.
“We’ve got some good players sitting out right now,’’ Julien said. “They’re not out because they’re not good. It’s competition.’’
It’s a good bet that both players, as well as defenseman Mike Mottau, will be counted on again, either during the last six regular-season games or in the playoffs. Injuries will strike. Paille has been a valuable member of the fourth line alongside Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton and a go-to penalty killer. Corvo is the No. 7 defenseman on the depth chart.
“We’re going to need those guys to step in at some point,’’ Julien said.
With a win against Washington, the Bruins could clinch a playoff spot. The Capitals, however, will be desperate to climb back into the postseason chase. After a 5-1 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday, Washington dropped into ninth place in the Eastern Conference. “For us, it’s great,’’ Julien said. “It’s the kind of competition we need at this time of year to get ourselves ready for the playoffs.’’ . . . Julien called for a limited practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday. Nine skaters and goalie Marty Turco hit the ice for a brief session. The other players went through off-ice workouts. “Some of the guys are logging big minutes here,’’ said Julien, who watched the practice alongside general manager Peter Chiarelli. “It’s about managing it. We’ve got four in six coming up. We need to get some rest somewhere along the way.’’ . . . Seventeen of the Bruins, including long-haired rookie Torey Krug, participated in Cuts for a Cause on Wednesday, having their heads shaved to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation and the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center . . . The Bruins announced that Jimmy Vesey of North Reading and Mary Parker of Noble & Greenough are the recipients of the John Carlton Award, given annually to the outstanding male and female student-athletes in Massachusetts high school or junior hockey.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.