Rolston

The news out of San Jose that Bruins forward Rich Peverley went through his first practice with the team since he started skating today, and even took a little contact, made today’s poll question even more pertinent.

It appears Peverley’s return from a severe knee sprain he suffered in mid-February is imminent. He told the media in San Jose, where the Bruins will play tomorrow night, that he won’t face the Sharks. But he is listed as day-to-day and could be back when Boston visits Los Angeles or Anaheim over the weekend.

When Peverley’s ready to play, someone from Boston’s current top 12 has to sit. Readers of TheBruinsBlog.net seem convinced that player should be Brian Rolston:

Which Bruins forward should sit when Peverley's back?

  • Brian Rolston (36%, 58 Votes)
  • Jordan Caron (30%, 48 Votes)
  • Benoit Pouliot (18%, 29 Votes)
  • Daniel Paille (15%, 24 Votes)

Total Voters: 159

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Despite Rolston’s hot hand of late (2-5-7 totals during a three-game points streak), I would agree that it makes the most sense to sit the 39-year-old and leave the rest of the lineup intact. Rolston was imported from the New York Islanders in a deadline-day trade to be a depth player. He’s on the roster to serve as an emergency fill-in and stay ready for just those instances. His last few solid games have both helped the Bruins win a couple games and given the team’s brass and Rolston’s teammates the confidence that he could be of assistance should a need arise. He’s not the player he was just a few years ago, and he would probably be more productive if he was in the lineup just occasionally.

Rookie Jordan Caron finished second in the poll. As a young player who was in and out of the lineup (plus up and down to Providence) for much of the first two thirds of the season, he could probably handle being a healthy scratch. But he’s played too well of late to be sat down. If his play tails off, he could find a seat in the press box. Whether the Bruins leave him in his current spot on the top line or drop him down the depth chart, though, he’s an important part of Boston re-finding its hard-nosed identity of late and in the near future.

Benoit Pouliot was an early-season punching bag for many observers because of his tendency to disappear and his failures to make a name for himself in previous cities. Over the course of the season, however, he has endeared himself to Bruins backers with his speed and his ability to make the occasional dazzling offensive play. He’s also proven to be adept at not hurting the Bruins in their own zone. Considering his history, he probably has the most fragile psyche on the club. If head coach Claude Julien sits him, he runs the risk of losing Pouliot whose 12 goals in 64 games is actually solid considering he averages just 12:02 of ice time a night.

While not many would want to break up Boston’s “Merlot Line,” Peverley’s return might provide an opportunity to at least rest Daniel Paille. The speedy winger recently missed five games with an upper-body injury and hasn’t looked right since his return to action. He’s had problems holding onto passes and hasn’t been much of a physical presence. The added depth Boston will have with Peverley available could make this the perfect time let Paille get to close to 100 percent healthy before the playoffs.

Regardless, Julien will once again have the type of lineup decision he likes — a difficult one.