Fourth line comes through vs. Senators

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Fourth line comes through vs. Senators

BOSTON -- The Bs fourth line made no secrets about the fact they knew they could be better.

Daniel Paille had the only point among the three forwards through a combined 30 games played between himself, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell ina lackingmonth of October. Thornton had scrapped in two of the last three games heading into Tuesday night against the Senators, and both he and Campbell dropped the gloves for the necessary emotional component provided by the energy line. In fact Thornton dropped 'em with former teammate Zenon Konopka on Tuesday night after fighting with former teammates Jim Vandermeer and Travis Moen in the last handful of games.

But above and beyond the friendly hockey fights, theevening was complete for the fourth line when all three forwards teamedto set up a third periodinsurance goal that helped form the final score in Bostons 5-3 victory over the Sens.There's a reason why the Bruins went 17-6-4 when Thornton, Paille or Campbell lit the lamp last season.

I think their line was more of what we know them to be, said coach Claude Julien. I thought they did a great job of starting the game for us in Montreal the other night got the puck in, and hemmed them in, and gave us some energy and against the Senators it was the same thing. We got a good first shift from that line.

They set the tempo of the games a lot of times. Theyre very good at that. I thought they played a lot better tonight and it was more of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and keeping them hemmed in. They seemed to read off each other better, and didnt get caught with outnumbered situations. Lately theyve been caught low, the three of them together. It was a good outing from that line rewarded with a goal from Paille.

The play was a reward for all three players getting some production for all their toil over the last few games. Campbell took the hit to scrape the puck off the wall, and Thornton tossed a perfectly placed lead pass to the speedy Paille. It might go down as one of the better looks Thornton has coaxed out of his hands in a respectable NHL career. The fourth line left wing dashed in behind the Ottawa defense and managed to flip the puck through Craig Andersons leg pads for Paille's second goal of the seasonjust 37 seconds after Johnny Boychuk had rifled home the game-winning goal.

It was pretty funny considering that Thornton had hosted Campbell at his house in Charlestown for a Halloween barbeque to talk about improving things within the team and more specifically their line.

We put pressure on ourselves obviously. We are older guys and we definitely want to be better, Thornton said. I actually had Soupy over last night to try and break the jinx. We thought about it and we obviously want to be able to contribute.

It was revealing on several levels for the fourth line and for the Bruins given Juliens choices throughout the game. The Bs coach started the energy playersat opening puck drop to give Boston the necessary momentum off the hop, and Julienthen went with the fourth line again in the shifts immediately following the third and fourth goals of the game.

Thats about as blatant a show of trust and responsibility as one will ever see the Bs coach make during a must-win game, and it was much to the chagrin of the card-carrying fourth line haters of the world. The fourth line paid back his faith by performing at each turn. Its no coincidence that the line's successful showing and a victorious effort were both connected, and the Bruins snapped their three-game losing streak because of it.

It isnt always about the points or production for the Bs fourth line, but the energy group setting the tone usually portends good things ahead for a Bruins team in need. That was never more apparent than Boston's team win over the Senators at their time of desperation.

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

B's determined to 'keep it going' during good offensive run

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The Bruins are going through a nice, little bountiful stretch of offense right now after a half-season of struggle.

The Bruins are averaging more than three goals per game in their last 12 contests, and have scored a whopping 22 goals in their last six games including dropping six scores on the Flyers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Combine that with the 7-for-25 performance on the power play during the month of January, and things are finally starting to catch up with a Bruins team that was all shoot/no score for months of frustrating hockey this season.

“If you want sustained success then you have to be good defensively, but you also have to score some goals. That’s definitely part of it and we have to keep it going,” said Patrice Bergeron, who has four goals and eight points in his last nine games after struggling out of the starting gate. “You’re not going to get rewarded every night like we did [against the Flyers], but you have to find that consistency where you’re close to having that every night.”

One thing nobody should expect out of the B’s, however, is to get outside of what they do well now that they’ve started slapping some numbers up on the board. Instead the Bruins are intent on their bedrock of disciplined defense and sensational goaltending with the added offense just making it much tougher to beat them these days.

“I don’t know if we can stand here and say we’re going to sustain that we’re scoring lots of goals. I think what we need to sustain here is winning more games than we lose,” said Claude Julien. “That’s what we’ve got to sustain. Whether it’s a 1-0 or 2-1 game, or it’s a 5-2 or 5-3 game it doesn’t really matter. It’s about winning hockey games much more than it’s about how much you scored, and how much you don’t score.

“Overall when I look at the scoring chances we’re giving up per game, that doesn’t seem to have changed. Goals allowed may have changed a little bit lately, but overall I think we’ve been very steady in that area [of defense].”

So now the Bruins will again be looking for that ideal balance of offense/defense when they take the ice against the Islanders on Monday afternoon for their second straight matinee at TD Garden. 

Morrow has 'confident feeling' as he readies to jump into B's lineup

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Morrow has 'confident feeling' as he readies to jump into B's lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It’s been a long month of bag skates and lonely practices for Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow.

That’s about to change thanks to injuries to both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller, who are both not expected to be able to play against the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon at TD Garden. That means Morrow will be in the B’s lineup for the first time since a Dec. 12 win over the Montreal Canadiens, a span of 16 consecutive B’s games that the 24-year-old has been watching from the press box.

Morrow skated in a pairing with John-Michael Liles in Sunday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena prior to Monday’smatinee, and obviously he’s looking forward to getting back into games given this season’s sporadic practice schedule.

“[Playing well after sitting for long stretches] isn’t necessarily something you want to be good at, but if you are good at then it’s a good tool to have in your bag. It’s a confident feeling that I’ll be able to come in [and play well],” said Morrow, who has an assist and a minus-3 rating in 13 games for the Black and Gold this season. “I’ve stayed in good shape and worked hard in practice, and that’s all I can do up until this point.

“Put simply, [this year’s compacted schedule] is exhausting. Countless times I’ve skated by myself, and anybody would tell you there’s nothing harder than skating by yourself on a sheet of ice. Mentally and physically it’s just exhausting. There haven’t been many practices and there haven’t been many game-type situations in the practices we do have. Skating with the whole team is almost like a pregame skate scenario. But you’re still skating every day, so it’s putting it upon yourself to go out there and stay ready for things.”

The one issue for Morrow, a former first round pick, over the last couple of seasons has been maintaining a high level of play once he draws his way into the lineup. It feels like there’s a drop-off in his play once he’s played a few games in a row whether it’s physical mistakes or mental lapses in his play, and that’s something he wants to avoid when given an opportunity to suit up.

“I feel like when I have played this year that I’ve been quite consistent and that I’ve played well,” said Morrow, the last remaining part of the 2013 Tyler Seguin trade still in a Bruins uniform. “I’m just in a situation that the cards are playing out the way that they are, so it depends on how many games I get whether it’s one, two, 30 or however many games are left [in the season]. It’s realistically entirely up to me. If I can shake the rust out in the first couple of shifts and start from there, it’s going to be a big positive in my book. It’s the really the only option I have left now.”

Given that Colin Miller began skating on his own on Sunday morning, it might not be a very big window for Morrow to impress upon the coaches just how badly he wants to play. But one would expect he’s going to bring his best on Monday against the Isles with the hopes that it will be somebody else sitting up in the press box when it once again becomes a D-man numbers game for the 7-8 players for six lineup spots.