BOSTON – So what will the Bruins do with Gregory Campbell out for the rest of the playoffs, and the Merlot Line, otherwise known as the best fourth line in hockey, disbanded for the time being?
“We’ve got a lot of options,” said Claude Julien, vagueness intended. “Lots of options and we’ll look at it closer today, and make a decision tomorrow.”
First things first: The Bruins will not be able to recreate what Campbell gives the Bruins in his role as fourth line center, penalty killer and grinding bottom six forward capable of blocking shots, dropping the gloves with tough customers, and doing the dirty work around the net. Campbell had three goals, seven points and a plus-7 in 15 playoff games, and the Bruins might not have advanced past the Rangers in the second round were it not for his line’s production.
For the Bruins coaching staff, that means everybody up and down the lineup will need to step up and do the things that Campbell provided.
“We’ve just got to make sure we get something out of all of our lines right now,” said Julien. “I think that’s the most important thing for us, and that’s where decisions are going to have to be made. How do we make it work so that we continue to have four lines?”
The most likely scenario Boston will opt for: They'll drop Rich Peverley into the center spot on the fourth line, and insert Kaspars Daugavins into the roster spot vacated by Campbell’s injury.
Daugavins played in Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs way back on May 1, and registered a pair of shots in 9:52 of ice time with Peverley a healthy scratch in that game.
The only question in that scenario is whether Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton remain together with Peverley, to get some kind of facsimile of the energy, attitude and occasional production the Merlot Line was renowned for.
The Daug Man knows his chance might be coming, and he’s excited to potentially get back into the game after watching the last 14 playoff games.
“If I’m playing with those guys obviously we’re going to play with a lot of energy and get pucks deep, cycle and get to the nets. It’s pretty simple. You just have to work very hard, and that goes especially against the Penguins,” said Daugavins, who finished with an assist and a minus-1 rating in six regular season games for the Bruins after arriving via waivers from the Ottawa Senators. “You want to play in their end. You don’t want to give them the puck.
“[The fourth line] has been a key line. A lot of times when things weren’t going our way they’ve been a key line. They got pucks deep, and got the energy going and cycled the puck for a minute. Then the next line would do the same thing. It’s not pretty when good players go down, [Campbell]’s been good on face-offs, PK, blocking shots...everywhere as an all-around player, but you just have to try to do what he did.”
Veteran forward Jay Pandolfo and Big Swede Carl Soderberg also remain options, as does 21-year-old Jordan Caron as a big-bodied forward that finished up his AHL playoff run with the P-Bruins within the last couple of weeks. But Pandolfo hasn’t played in two months dating back to anApril 6 game against the Montreal Canadiens, and Soderberg didn’t appear ready for prime time Stanley Cup playoff action during his stint at the end of the regular season.
It may come down to Caron or Daugavins as Boston’s best options, and it’s hard to see them choosing anything but the Daug Man considering his good skating speed and ability to kill penalties. The Bruins depth will be tested once again during this playoff run, but that isn’t always such a bad thing as Boston has already proven this postseason.