Earlier this week the Bruins fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille along with their coach Claude Julien lamented that they hadnt been as consistently good last year as theyd been in the Stanley Cup season.
So instead of coming up with excuses or simply accepting mediocrity, the Bs energy cranked it up like they main-lining Red Bull and became a huge factor in Bostons 3-1 victory over the Rangers on opening night.
They came as advertised: opportunistic offense, gritty and responsible defense and the courageous willingness to sacrifice their bodies for the purpose of spiking up the energy levels.
They did exactly what we expect them to do. Not so much the fight, which is something they do automatically. Thornton has always been there for us and Campbell always likes to take on bigger guys than he should, but that just means that he doesnt back down from everybody, said Claude Julien. Hes a trooper, no matter what, he was coming back in the third and he was going to play the same way. They did a great job.
Not only did they score the goal, they did a lot of good things. Every once in a while they were out there against some of their big lines. If you remember a couple of years ago, they were able to handle that. They were doing the right things and I felt like they were showing that again tonight, so they got that opportunity.
Paille finished with the game-winning goal in the second period after he redirected a long Gregory Campbell shot that dinged off the post, bounced off the backside of Henrik Lundqvist and rattled its way to the back of the net. That was the biggest portion of a solid night for the fourth lines left wing, but it wasnt long before his two fourth line partners got involved.
Thats something that weve been trying to drive through the net, especially our line, said Paille. When it works, it helps out huge for us to get some goals, and I think thats important for us for a good win like that.
Brad Richard rifled home a puck later in the second period that made it a one-goal game for the Rangers, but Thornton and Campbell factored in and changed that flow of momentum quickly. Thornton dropped the gloves with Rangers tough guy Mike Rupp and engaged in a minute-long dance that ended with the Bruins enforcer bloodying his Rangers counterpart with an overhand right straight to the face.
It had been awhile. Im sure its been awhile for Rupp too, said Thornton. They had just scored, I figured it was just as good a time as any to get the momentum going back the other way, maybe shake off some rust at the same time.
Then on the next face-off 6-foot, 197-pound Campbell took on the 6-foot-4, 207-pound Stu Bickel and fought to a draw after both combatants exchanged flying punches in an emotional bout.
Those two hockey fights wrested the momentum flow back away from the Rangers, and the Bruins put together dominant shift after shift to discourage New York before finally putting them away with Johnny Boychuks score in the third period. Paille, Campbell and Thornton spoke all week about the desire to bounce back from their combined minus-15 rating from last season, and to constantly provide the energy that arrived in erratic bunches last season.
Saturday was a good start for the trio in all of those areas.
Weve all talked about that line. Thats a line that gets us going. Weve seen that in the past years and again tonight and its the same thing again, said Patrice Bergeron. Its about getting momentum. A huge goal for us, but also those fights lift you up, and theyre always there for you so it means a lot for the rest of the team.
Two years ago the Bruins fourth line was called the best in the NHL when Boston captured the Stanley Cup, and nobody will ever forget the tone they set in Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks. Its well-documented how important the energy line is to the fortunes of the Black and Gold, and it looks it could be a good year for both after a textbook performance on opening night.