Fourth line provides winning energy, example

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Fourth line provides winning energy, example

BOSTON -- The forward line of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille fondly likes to think of themselves as the energy line, and they lived up to their billing on Friday night.

With some of their teammates sleepwalking through a game against a scrappy New York Islanders bunch, the Bs fourth line pumped in a pair of goals in the first two periods and provided a jolt of energy that helped propel the Black and Gold to a 4-2 win over the Isles at TD Garden.

Claude Julien had no problem crediting the fourth line with being their best forward group in the ugly win, and that stands as the second time in the first four games of the season that the energy line proved a felt impact in victory.

Thats a pretty good start for a trio that doesnt get some of the fanfare of the other groups, but brings bundles of pure energy for everybody else on the roster to use as momentum-building nourishment.

Theyve always taken pride in doing that for our team in the past, said Julien. Tonight theyre the ones that were doing the right things.

Thornton kicked it off with his first goal of the season as he battled through the Islanders defense to reach the rebound of a Dougie Hamilton shot, and shoveled it into the open net with a quick backhanded attempt. It was an important goal for No. 22 coming off Wednesday night when his inability to clear a puck led to a Rangers goal just 46 seconds after the Bruins had tied things up in the back-and-forth.

It was clear he wasn't happy about the play, and -- in true energy line fashion -- he did something about it.

One period later a David Krejci shot from far outside of the left face-off circle bounced off New York defenseman Joe Finleys skate and right onto Gregory Campbells stick. The fourth line center fired back at the net, and allowed the Bruins to head into the third period tied at 2-2 despite some lackluster, out-of-sync play overall.

Both goals the fourth line scored they had somebody in front of the net: Thorty Shawn Thornton on the first one, and Soupy Gregory Campbell on the second goal, said Julien. So they did things that our others lines werent doing for two period. Once we got ourselves going we were a lot better. They set the example, I guess, for the rest of the team for the third period.

The line finished with eight shots on net for the game, and also gave the team 1.21 jigowatts of energy when Paille clobbered Brian Strait in the corner toward the end of the first period. Matt Martin tried to jump Paille while standing up for Strait, but Thornton grabbed the Isles tough guy to protect his linemate. The B's enforcer was slapped with a 10-minute misconduct, but the Bruins actually went on the power play following the exchange.

Following the game Thornton didnt speak to reporters as he was feeling under the weather, but Campbell said the energy and opportunistic offense are what they are all about.

We have been playing together for the last two years, which is a rare thing in hockey. We get along off the ice, which is good because it transfers on the ice, said Campbell. We accept our role and know our role. Sometimes it is not an easy job but we are willing to help the team. Its a role that we take pride in.

I think energy is part of our job description, every night, is to bring energy to our team, whether it was tonight or any other game. For us I think it is important to read the game and learn from our mistakes from the last game, where we came out kind of flat and fell behind.

Better than the energy or the occasional offense: Campbell shares the team lead in points with Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Brad Marchand after four games. It speaks to just how big a role the fourth line has played as they once again set the tone early in a season where theyve been sorely needed by their team.

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.

Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

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Wednesday, August 24: B's dealing with post-Vesey aftermath

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with the Olympics coming to a close . . .
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke sorts through the aftermath for the Bruins after losing out on Jimmy Vesey

-- Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland gave an interview where he said the Red Wings aren’t Stanley Cup contenders this season. 

-- Related to Holland’s comments, some of the media in Detroit aren’t taking the dose of reality all that well

-- It’s a big season for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, who will be starring for Team USA on the World Cup team. 

 -- PHT writer Cam Tucker says the Buffalo Sabres still have a strong group of forwards even without Jimmy Vesey.

-- Jamie Benn is giving everything to his Dallas Stars team, and that means that the World Cup of Hockey is taking a backseat
 
-- The Colorado Avalanche are nearing the end of their head coaching search as they look for their replacement for Patrick Roy.
 
-- For something completely different: NBC is making the argument that millenials watched the Olympics, but just not on the traditional formats