Khokhlachev

Khokhlachev

The Bruins got their comeuppance in Toronto on Wednesday night, as the Maple Leafs rolled 6-1 to gain revenge for the 4-1 whooping Boston put on them earlier in the year.

In the third period, Bruins coach Claude Julien juggled all his lines. Thursday night in Montreal, Julien might do some more juggling after the recall of forward Alexander Khokhlachev from Providence of the AHL.

Koko (as Khokhlachev is known and as it’s easier to write) has been playing center all season and the past several weeks has found great chemistry with Bruins 2014 first-round pick David Pastrnak. This season Koko has 5-6-11 totals and a plus-4 rating in 12 games.

The Bruins didn’t seem to suffer any injuries in Toronto, but 34-year-old Simon Gagne only skated four shifts in the third period and he missed 10 minutes of ice time between two of his shifts. That could’ve been a product of the Bruins’ two power plays in the third if Gagne wasn’t dealing with an injury or equipment problem. Brad Marchand skated six third-period shifts, but none after the 13:26 mark, so that’s curious.

Barring an injury that the Bruins have not revealed, the easy place to plug in Koko would be between Milan Lucic and Seth Griffith. That would allow Chris Kelly to go back to left wing with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Kelly could help out Soderberg on faceoffs (or take them all) after Soderberg’s 1-for-8 performance in Toronto. With that line together, Julien would have two lines that know each other well, with the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith line being the other. Then Julien could decide between Matt Fraser and Simon Gagne for the fourth line.

However, I’d be more apt to put Lucic with Soderberg and Eriksson. It’s time to give Lucic a real chance to produce without David Krejci in the lineup because Lucic’s talents are being wasted without a legitimate scoring center next to him and because the Bruins might have to live without Krejci for a while. It’s time to get this problem solved and get Lucic going.

With Soderberg at this side, Lucic can focus on banging and driving the net and know a center with offensive hands can get him the puck. With Soderberg and Lucic opening space, Eriksson should have room to finally do the things in the offensive zone he’s supposed to be able to do. If he can’t get it done with those two guys on his line, Eriksson might be a lost cause.

This would leave the Bruins with a third line of Kelly, Koko and Griffith. Kelly can help out on faceoffs and be the defensive conscience of this line. And maybe Koko and Griffith can find the chemistry they had as linemates last season.

As for the Fraser vs. Gagne decision, pick your poison. Fraser can’t seem to find any level of consistency, but Gagne seems like he’s peaked after coming back from a year off. The Bruins might be better off getting Fraser the experience than wasting more minutes of Gagne.

Puck drop in Montreal is scheduled for around 7:30 p.m. The Bruins won’t have a morning skate, so barring an unforeseen burst of transparency over the course of the day we won’t know the reason for Koko’s recall or where he fits in the lineup until around 6:30 p.m.