April 24, 2012

Bergeron in, but Julien has game-time decisions to make

By Jesse Connolly

Patrice Bergeron (left) is a lock to play in Game 7, but the B's must determine if Mike Mottau (right) will stay in the lineup and if Shawn Thornton will be reinserted after being scratched. (Getty Images)

Claude Julien has a few decisions to make prior to Game 7 against the Capitals, but the B’s coach put any fears of Patrice Bergeron missing the big tilt to bed following practice at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday.

“He’s playing next game. He’s not game-to-game,” Julien responded to his third question about Bergeron, who did not partake in the practice. “I don’t know how much clearer I can get. He’s in.”

That still leaves the Bruins bench boss with two other questions to find answers to. One is whether Jordan Caron will stay in the lineup or Shawn Thornton will be reinserted for the winner-take-all contest at TD Garden.

“Sometimes a coach has to make decisions, it’s nothing personal, it’s nothing about, necessarily, the player’s played more,” Julien said of sitting the veteran forward. “It’s what we need for this certain game and that’s all it was. He understands that stuff; he’s been through it many times, even before he came here. He’s all about the team and whatever we need to do he’s going to support us. He’s as happy today as he was the day before he got pulled out of the lineup.”

Mike Mottau replaced an injured Joe Corvo in Game 6. The Avon, Mass., native was solid in limited action and may be in the lineup again in Game 7. He took majority of the reps in practice alongside Greg Zanon, while Corvo was paired with Andrew Bodnarchuk.

“Mike’s given us exactly what we’ve asked from him from day one,” Julien said. “He’s come in, been a very reliable defenseman (and made) smart plays. A couple of times on the blue line he found the opening guy with shots to the side of the net that were either tipped, passed to the slot – we saw that with [Brian] Rolston.  He’s got a good vision of what’s out there and he makes some smart plays.”

Julien plans on deciding who’s in and who’s out right before the puck drops.

“I’m going to make these last second decisions as long as I can,” the coach said. “That’s part of the playoff hockey, you keep all your assets in the back of your mind and at the end of the day, or just before game time, you got to make that final decisions and guys are prepared for that they’ve been told that those things can happen.”

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.