Undying loyalty to Seguin, Marchand might lead to Bruins’ early demise

The Bruins are 3-4 in their Game 7s since Julien started coaching them. Things looked just as bleak entering those games as they do now. Maybe some 2011 magic will arrive Monday and these past several days will take up a couple chapters of Boston’s championship book. Or maybe again some under-to-radar opposing player will bury an overtime goal and the Bruins’ Stanley Cup chances. Fact is, it shouldn’t have come to this. The Bruins should’ve ended this, and Julien should’ve have made maneuvers to make sure that the poor habits that were developing during wins didn’t eventually lead to defeats.

Win or lose, Toronto coach Randy Carlyle has made plenty of switches — some forced by injury, some made on his own volition. He put Jay McClement with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to slow down Krejci’s line in Game 5. In Game 6, Carlyle replaced McClement with Clarke MacArthur for most of the game. The new shutdown line had the same effect. Depending on the situation, Carlyle juggled his lines a little in Game 5 and 6. He could’ve easily limited Jake Gardiner’s minutes — the way Julien did Dougie Hamilton’s time in Game 6 — when forced to put the young blueliner in because of injury. Instead he’s let Gardiner blossom into one of the best stories of this series.

If Julien wants to give his four lines one more chance to roll and save this season to start Game 7, he can. It’s not like he’s has a ton of options. But his patience can’t be longer than an eyelash. If he has to just play his best six, seven forwards — even if Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton are in that group — he has to do it. This is not a Bruins team built to play just one round for a second straight playoffs season.

Loyalty is a great trait. It’s also one that should have an expiration date. Marchand and Seguin are past due, and unless they salvage a series win Monday night, Julien’s clock might start ticking as well.

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