Fourth line leads Bruins to Eastern Conference Finals

sptb_bruins

The Bruins advanced to their second Eastern Conference Finals in three seasons with a 3-1 win in Game 5 vs. Rangers on Saturday night at TD Garden. Boston will meet Pittsburgh for the right to go the Stanley Cup Finals in a series that is ripe with juicy storylines. We’ve got plenty of time to talk about that series later though, for now we’ll focus on one of the main reasons that the B’s are still alive in the playoffs: their depth, specifically on the fourth line (Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell & Shawn Thornton) that New York never could figure out ways to stop.

“We play a straightforward game,” said Campbell, who scored the game winning goal in the second period then wrapped it up with an empty-netter with 51 seconds left in regulation. “It’s not pretty but we create traffic in front of goaltenders. It’s not easy to score on Henrik Lundqvist (29 saves) but the teams that move on tend to put things behind them (like a painful Game 4 loss in overtime).”

Brad Richards-the highest paid player on the Rangers-didn’t even suit up for the last two games of the series as New York head coach John Tortorella scrambled to find ways to match Boston’s fourth line. This was all a response to Paille getting the game-winner in Game 3, which basically clinched the semifinals series. Thornton and Paille assisted on Campbell’s first goal in Game 5 and before that, Thornton fought Derek Dorsett in the first period as New York tried the ill-suited strategy to be overly-physical with the Bruins in their own building.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien said “no doubt they tried to intimidate Paille, that shows what they thought of his value to us. That line makes a coach look good, we’re known as a team that rolls four lines and we do it because we have depth. (Bruins GM) Peter Chiarelli has allowed us to do that, we’re moving on and they’re a big part of that.”

In 12 playoff games, Paille (2 goals, 3 assists), Campbell (3 goals, 2 assists) and Thornton (3 assists) have combined for 13 points. That has allowed Boston to offset the poor performances of Rich Peverley (1 goal) and Chris Kelly (0 points) on the third line. Afterwards, Julien talked about how playing the fourth line even in big moments allows the other lines to be a little more fresh down the stretch, resulting in wins for Boston during puck battles along the boards and races to the puck.

“The last couple series, we’ve been fortunate to contribute like we can,” noted Paille. “It helps knowing we’ll get regular shifts.” Indeed, Thornton played 7:22 which would have been more but he was in the penalty box for seven minutes, Paille had 9:10 of ice time and Campbell had a line-high 10:44 over 18 shifts. Thornton is known as Boston’s main enforcer while Campbell and Paille are arguably their best pair of penalty killing forwards.

Most fourth lines on NHL teams are a random assortment of AHL callups and other guys that are struggling or hanging on to an NHL career. By having so much success together the last three seasons, the Bruins fourth line has forged their own identity not to mention spawned countless lovable nicknames-Merlot line, Fribble crew, energy line, etc. For the B’s to beat the Penguins, they’ll need more of the same type of contributions from the fourth line.

Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Cleavage complaint: Disneyland staffer orders curvy mom to…

A curvy mom-of-three says she filed a formal complaint after staff at Disneyland Resort in California ordered her to cover up her boobs. Melissa Behnken,…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Local

Local politicians pressure DOJ to investigate Ramarley Graham…

On what would have been his 21st birthday, Ramarley Graham's mother joined elected leaders to ask the U.S. Department of Justice investigate his death.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Going Out

Tasty chicken and waffles in NYC

Try some soul food goodness around the city.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

NBA

Knicks wrap up season with win over Raptors

The Knicks wrapped up their season as it began — undermanned — but that still didn’t deter them from ending it the right way.

MLB

Adam Warren closes out doubleheader sweep for Yankees

Adam Warren navigated a tricky ninth inning earn the Yankees a 2-0 victory over the Cubs.

NHL

Marc Staal healthy, eager to contribute to Rangers…

Marc Staal remembers the feeling of helplessness watching his teammates compete for hockey’s ultimate prize and being unable to contribute.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.