B's Merlot Line getting back to vintage form

B's Merlot Line getting back to vintage form
April 26, 2013, 10:45 am
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BOSTON -- It’s fitting that the fourth line made major contributions on a night when other key energy players like Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic found their nastiness.

Both Ference and Lucic dropped the gloves in anger during Boston’s 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Daniel Paille cranked home his 10th goal of the season in the second period to give the Bruins a little cushion they didn’t end up needing. It was a beautiful goal with all three members of the B’s energy line touching the puck on the play before Gregory Campbell fed a cross-ice pass to Daniel Paille at the right face-off circle dot. Paille did the rest smoking a one-timer past Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback, and the left winger had his fourth career season with double-digit goals.

It was his first time hitting the 10-goal mark in a season since 2009-10, and makes one wonder how good his season might have been had it been a regular 82-game shortened campaign.

“That’s what we want. We’ve been talking and talking for so long, and I think it’s nice to have us react and play the way we always wanted to,” said Paille, who finished with two shots on net and two takeaways in 12:18 of ice time. “I think that’s huge for us to build – not only going to the weekend -- going to the playoffs. [We need to] just to stay confident like we did tonight and continue to work as hard as we did.”

Campbell, Thornton and Paille all played the energy role to perfection on Thursday night and looked in playoff form as the Bruins coaching staff is fine-tuning the line combinations and defensive pairings. With only two games remaining in the season the B’s need cohesion, energy and confidence between linemates and defensive partners, and the fourth line is one area that doesn’t seem to be a concern. Some of this year’s flawed moments for the fourth line – long shift, getting hemmed into their own zone, turnovers around the net - need to be over if the Bruins want to once again taste playoff success.

“They played the type of game that we expect that line to play, and I thought they were really good. They were one of our good lines tonight where they created a lot,” said Claude Julien. “They just kept their game simple the way they have to keep it simple. But there’s some confidence there – you know, Soupy [Gregory Campbell] making that pass and [Daniel] Paille not hesitating, great shot. The goaltender didn’t have much time to get across.

“Overall they were making the right plays and keeping pucks in down low and battling…and [Shawn Thornton] the same thing. Not only that but they’ve had some challenges at times this year where they weren’t making good line changes and leaving the next line “hanging” is what we would use as a term. They were sharp in all those areas tonight, so I thought they were good.”

It would appear the fourth line’s days of leaving anybody hanging should be over, and they proved two years ago during the Stanley Cup run just how valuable they can be to the Black and Gold during the playoffs.