Fourth line comes through vs. Senators


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.

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season. 

Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?


Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving The Walking Dead credit for delivering a pile driver to me as a TV viewer last night. I did not see all of that coming.

*Plenty of questions and answers about the Calgary Flames as they’ve looked a little shaky in the early going this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has the Edmonton Oilers straightening things out after the brutal loss to Buffalo.

*NHL captains like Steve Stamkos carry the heavy weight of tradition on their shoulders as they go about their business.

*The Hockey News wonders if Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward to ever play in the NHL. I’m certain he’s in the conversation, but that’s a big, bold statement that deserves some heavy consideration. After all, he never had to defend Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe or any other number of offensive stars. I certainly think he should be in the select club he would join if/when he wins his fourth Selke Trophy.

*Minnesota D-man Matt Dumba was nearly scratched by the Minnesota Wild, and he says that he’s never going to let that happen again.

*The Anaheim Ducks placed Simon Despres on long term injured reserve as they try to stay afloat salary cap-wise, and avoid dealing off a player in-season.

*For something completely different: The Boston Celtics break ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the new Bruins place.