Fourth line leads Bruins to Eastern Conference Finals


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


'Five Star': A coming-of-age story about Brooklyn's gang…

'Five Star' tells a coming-of-age story about Brooklyn's gang culture at the Tribeca Film Festival.


New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…


NYPD detective shoots partner: DA

A New York City Police detective was arrested early Thursday and charged with driving under the influence while on the clock.


Judge strikes down NY limits on donations to…

A federal judge on Thursday reluctantly struck down New York's limits on donations to independent political action committees as unconstitutional, potentially ushering in a new…


Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.


M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"


Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.


Rangers unlikely to change lineup, Steve Mason in…

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn't say much, but don't expect any lineup changes.


Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.


Nets excited for Brooklyn fans to bring the…

Kevin Garnett has definitely used profanity while trash talking or in practices, but never to describe an entire borough.


Rangers turn up shot blocking in Game 3…

Game 3 of the Rangers-Flyers opneing round series was not a return to John Tortorella hockey.


New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.


From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.


Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.


MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.