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Bruins make changes in bid to shake slump

Seth Griffith, a right-shot right wing on a team sorely lacking them, was recalled by the Bruins.FILE/FRED BECKHAM/ASSOCIATED PRESS

No one was more upset on Sunday than Matt Fraser.

It was the morning after a night of disappointment and disappearances for the Bruins, a team with title aspirations that — for now — can’t seem to even score a goal.

Twelve hours before, team leaders — Chris Kelly, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron — had stood in the dressing room and used words like “embarrassed” and “upsetting,” “outworked,” and “outplayed,” after being shut out by the Washington Capitals at home in a second straight poorly played game.

So, the Bruins had made some changes.

Seth Griffith, a right wing on a team in need of them, was up. Craig Cunningham, sacrificed for the failings of others, was down. Fraser and Bobby Robins, relegated to skating with the extra forwards, were demoted. Jordan Caron, added to the fourth line, was promoted.


And the best news of all: David Krejci was on the ice for practice, cleared for contact, skating with Milan Lucic and Griffith, seemingly ready to return on Monday.

Meanwhile, Fraser, who had looked so good in training camp that he was the first hopeful penciled into a spot with the NHL club, was the picture of frustration and self-flagellation.

“At the end of the day, it’s unacceptable,” Fraser said of his play. “I definitely take full ownership of that and know that as a player and as a person that’s unacceptable.”

He continued, “It was probably an easy decision for [coach Claude Julien] to say, ‘Fras doesn’t deserve to go in.’ It’s hard to look in the mirror and recognize that and say, ‘Yeah, I don’t deserve to be in the lineup,’ or whatever it may be. So that alone is very frustrating.”

Fraser is, of course, not the only issue. But the young (or inexperienced) players that the Bruins brought in by free agency and injuries have not panned out. The third and fourth lines — that would be Lucic-Ryan Spooner-Fraser and Daniel Paille-Cunningham-Robins — have struggled immensely. That has left the team playing with only two lines. And that just doesn’t work.


Not that the stars are off the hook.

As Julien said, “Your best players have to be your best players.”

And over the past two games, few Boston players have been at their best at anything they’ve tried to do.

Fortunately for the Bruins, there is that bright spot. Krejci, out for the first three games of the season, appears ready to return for Monday’s matinee against the Avalanche, ready to extend the team’s depth and answer the questions that have started to be asked. Even Julien, while cautioning that trainers still needed to be consulted, said it was “looking good” for Krejci to return.

“I’m positive,” Krejci said, when asked about staying optimistic. “Every day has been better. So I know it’s going to be better tomorrow again, I’ll be good to go. I’m positive, so everybody’s got to stay positive. I’ll be on the ice [Monday].”

Even if Krejci is on the ice, that doesn’t solve all the Bruins’ problems. They have holes that need filling, partially because of the loss of Jarome Iginla, who will be back in the building with the Avalanche on Monday.

And while the Bruins had hoped that some of their young players — such as Fraser and Spooner — would step up and into the vacancies, that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, they have been timid and have appeared to lack confidence; they have worried about making mistakes instead of playing the way they know they can. They have chased the puck, and have barely gotten to demonstrate the skills that brought them here: speed and shooting.


“The one thing I can say is that Spoons has shown flashes here that he can really do well, and so has Fraser,” Julien said. “[Fraser’s] got a lethal shot and he showed that in camp, at times. Right now I think they’re probably pressing like the rest of the team.

“When you lose these last two games, the last people you want to point the finger at is those guys.”

But they aren’t helping, not right now.

So it was time to bring up Griffith, a right-shot right wing. It was time for Julien to shuffle his lines to find more depth and scoring.

It was time to ensure that his team didn’t get deflated quite so easily.

Yes, it might be just three games into the season, but the time to make the Bruins’ wrongs into rights is now. There’s no reason to wait.

“The bottom line is you’ve got to fix it,” Julien said. “You can’t allow it to happen. I go back to having enough guys in here that have been with us for many years we know that are a lot more resilient. They’ve got to take it over here, and if they take it over, everybody else will follow.


“I said it [Saturday] night: It’s not panic. It’s something we need to fix. Hopefully that happens [on Monday].”

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.