Shortening the bench

It’s not uncommon for Terry Murray to cut back to three lines in the third period of a tight game. Usually, though, it’s players such as Raitis Ivanans and fellow fourth-liners who end up getting fastened to the bench late. Saturday, though, Alexander Frolov and Justin Williams each had one shift early in the third period, then didn’t leave the bench. Today in practice, Frolov and Williams wore yellow jerseys — almost always given to fourth-line players — and were centered by Jeff Halpern. This morning, I asked Murray about his choice, and whether it was any type of a statement…

MURRAY: “This isn’t a touchy-feel game at this time of the year. I’m not worried about that. It’s about execution. It’s about winning the game. In Fro’s case in particular, on the penalty kill that he was out there for, the puck came to him three times on the boards, around the boards, to his side of the ice, and there needs to be more battle and compete. That’s a desperation kind of a situation. In the one-goal games, everything matters, every play, every pass, every read really matters.

“The other part of it, with Willy being a veteran guy, he’s still working his way back to be at top speed, and I have awareness to that. I loved his effort last night. He’s trying to work on the skill part of his game. He showed some really good things but, again, I needed to shut that game down and I went with the people that could.”

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