Commentary

Julien hopes to spark Sturm

Updated: April 26, 2010, 3:52 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- It was quite noticeable to see Boston Bruins forward Marco Sturm wearing a gold sweater during practice Sunday morning at TD Garden.

That means coach Claude Julien is at least thinking about the possibility of putting the left winger alongside center Patrice Bergeron and right winger Mark Recchi on Boston's top line for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres here Monday night.

[+] EnlargeMarco Sturm
AP Photo/ David DupreyMarco Sturm has only one goal in his past 21 games, but head coach Claude Julien may try to give him a spark by switching him to the Bruins' top line.

It could also mean Julien is just using one of his postseason coaching tactics in order to confuse Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff. However, that line will likely start the game together, and if it can jell then maybe it sticks.

"Hopefully," said Sturm, who has scored only one goal in the past 21 games. "I've done it before with Bergy and Rex. I think it went well. I just couldn't bury it, and that's why I think they split us up before. I'm very happy to be back on that line."

He hasn't been happy about his play of late and unless he can add something to the offense quick in Game 6, don't be surprised if Julien decides to switch up his lines again. He's already made some changes to his top line, removing Milan Lucic and replacing him with Daniel Paille late in Game 4 in Boston and it stayed that way in Game 5.

During Sunday's practice, Julien also had Lucic on the line with David Krejci and Miroslav Satan. Vladimir Sobotka centered Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. Paille was back to the fourth line with Shawn Thornton and Steve Begin.

Now that the Bruins are one victory away from advancing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Julien is looking for some kind of spark, but he's not about to show his cards to the opponent.

"We've moved guys around all year," Julien said. "There's not a ton behind it, no reasons behind it more than some familiar faces and I just felt it was time to try that out today. We'll see what we decide tomorrow."

Sturm has played alongside Bergeron many times in the past, so this won't be anything new. There is a familiarity that could help.

"He's got that speed and he's such a great player," Bergeron said. "We have some good chemistry, all three of us. Me and Sturmy have been playing together for a long time, so we know where we are on the ice and it's going to be nice to have him on the left side."

Sturm laughed when asked if it were up to Bergeron to get him going offensively.

"I know him and I know he's going to get me the puck," he said. "I just need to play like I did in the past. I've got to relax and have fun."

Early during Game 5 in Buffalo, Sturm was given a quality scoring chance when linemate David Krejci set him up with an open net on the off-post to the right of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. The puck was bouncing a bit, but Sturm still fanned on his chance.

"I thought the last couple of games were a little bit better than the ones before," he said. "I'll try to be involved a little bit more and be more aggressive."

It's been obvious of late when Sturm has control of the puck and works his way into the offensive zone, he quickly tees one up and puts a shot on net. Even though it's not a high-percentage shot, he's hoping one will trickle in and get him out of this funk.

"You have to focus on getting more to the net," he said. "At the same time, don't do it too much. You've just got to relax, that's the biggest thing."

Prior to his goal in the season finale in Washington on April 11, Sturm last scored on March 11 at Philadelphia. During that scoring skid, he registered only one assist. Overall, Sturm scored 22 goals and added 15 assists for 37 points in 76 games for Boston this season.

"He's working so hard, and he's obviously a great player and can score some clutch goals," Bergeron said. "I'm not worried about him."

The Bruins have lacked a consistent scoring touch all season, and now, with the season on the line, Sturm might be given the opportunity to come up big for Boston in Game 6.

"I know I have to step it up and hopefully I can respond," Sturm said.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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