ANAHEIM — Todd Elik stopped being surprised a while ago. So when Boston Bruin Coach Steve Kasper threatened to move Elik off the No. 1 line this past week, he didn't rant and rave.
But that's not to say Elik didn't take Kasper seriously.
He did, and responded by playing perhaps his best game of the season, leading the Bruins to an easy victory over the overmatched Mighty Ducks Sunday at the Pond.
One goal, Elik's first of the season, and two assists in the Bruins' 5-1 victory figured to be enough to keep him on the team's top line.
"I wanted to prove to [Kasper] that I want to still play on that line," Elik said. "Whatever I have to do, I'll do."
It's not the first time Kasper has gone to extremes to motivate Elik, who counts the Kings among five former teams.
Last year, during what Elik considered a particularly hot streak, the Bruins sent him to Providence of the American Hockey League for seven games.
"I had 19 points in 16 games and I went to the minors," Elik said. "Maybe [Kasper] thinks he needs to keep tight reigns on me."
Kasper planned to move Elik "in and out" of the top line Sunday, but wound up playing him with the top line of Adam Oates and Rick Tocchet for most of the game.
Whether it was the figurative kick in the rear from Kasper or the Ducks' poor defense, Elik looked like an all-star.
"Todd's a very competitive guy," said Tocchet, another ex-King. "Sometimes when you're struggling you have to get back to basics."
Elik's first assist set up Trent McCleary's first-period goal that gave Boston a 2-0 lead.
In the second period, Elik swatted home a rebound after Duck goalie Guy Hebert stopped Oates' point-blank shot from the slot.
On the same shift a moment later, Elik fed a cross-ice pass to Tocchet, who scored the Bruins' fifth goal.
It was just the sort of boost the Bruins could use.
After qualifying for the playoffs in each season since 1966-67, many figured this might be the end of the Bruins' streak. After all, Cam Neely retired and there are many young faces, particularly on defense.
When Elik, who had 13 goals and 46 points last season, went without a goal in the season's first five games, it looked like another sure sign the Bruins would be also-rans.
Elik, however, has proven otherwise since.